Rocketsports Racing driver Alex Tagliani will run the #8 Rocketsports/Johnson Controls Lola in the 2004 Champ Car World Series, having dropped the number 33, which he was given at the start of his Champ Car career for the favourable single digit.

The Canadian, who returns for a second season with Paul Gentilozzi's Rocketsports team, explained that he had a long-standing reason for wanting to change numbers.

"Eight was the number I chose for the first kart I raced as a kid," he said, "I've wanted to change my number for some time, and I'm glad the opportunity has come."

Tagliani revealed the Lola bearing his new number at the Champ Car season premiere in Long Beach yesterday [Monday, unveiling the names of returning associate sponsors Microchip, Futaba and Montreal-based Saputo.

In addition to a new number, Tagliani also welcomed new team-mate Nelson Philippe, who will be driving the #17 Rocketsports/LeasePlan Lola in his first season out of the Barber Dodge series. The Canadian said that he was particularly looking forward to working with the French rookie, and benefiting from the strength in depth that a two-car outfit would provide.

Earlier this season, Rocketsports welcomed engineer Brian Ma to take the lead on Tagliani's Lola and engineer Alain Clarinval to head up Philippe's #17 crew. In addition to adding a full new crew for the second car, the reputable Robin Hill joined Rocketsports to serve as crew chief for both cars.