Vermeulen will be riding a one-off Rizla Suzuki GSV-R inspired by Sheene's Suzuki XR-14 grand prix bike of the mid-seventies. The 2007 800cc GSV-R will have an individually designed Rizla blue and white paint-scheme that will also feature a tribute to Sheene's famous crossed seven, set within Vermeulen's #71.

The 25-year-old Queenslander will also be sporting a retro style race-suit to match the bike and a helmet inspired by Sheene's iconic style.

Vermeulen was singled out as a remarkable talent by Sheene, the 1976 and 1977 500cc world champion, in the '90s and he persuaded the young Aussie to go to Britain and pursue his racing dream. Vermeulen took Sheene's advice and has never looked back since then, winning a World Supersport championship and then World Superbike races on his way to becoming a full-time MotoGP star in 2006.

"This is a great honour for me to ride the latest generation of Suzuki GP bike in a colour scheme inspired by my hero, Barry Sheene," said Chris, who won his first MotoGP race at Le Mans this year. "Barry did a lot to make sure I became a success when I arrived in the UK and I miss him a lot. I rode one of his XR-14 grand prix bikes at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year and that was certainly a privilege, but to ride my bike in the same livery is just awesome. Thanks to Suzuki and the team for letting this happen, I just hope that we can do credit to it!"

"Towards the end of 1998, when I was running our fledgling Suzuki British Superbike team, my wife took a call at home and yelled that it was Barry Sheene on the line. 'Yeah, right, of course it is' was my response but sure enough it was Barry himself telling me that I had to get this new Australian kid on our bike for 1999," recalled team manager Paul Denning. "We couldn't then, as our deals were done, but it was a great pleasure to shake Chris's hand to become a Suzuki grand prix rider just a few years later and I'm sure that Barry would have approved. This one-off livery looks stunning and it's a pleasure to be able to run it in Australia, Barry's second home."

Vermeulen will unveil the special Sheen livery at Phillip Island on Thursday 11th October, on the eve of the grand prix weekend. Team-mate John Hopkins will be racing in the usual Rizla colour scheme.