In the early 1980s, anyone who knew anything about motocross was a fan of André Malherbe. He was the first motocross god. The head of a Greek god, the bank account of a Hollywood star, the body of a decathlete and riding the most beautiful motorcycles ever made. Unfortunately, champions are not immortal either: André Malherbe passed away today, Thursday, November 24, 2022 at the age of 66.
End of an impressive career
After countless victories and titles, the world collapsed on January 6, 1988. Those of many fans, but especially those of André Malherbe. The three-time world champion started the fourth stage of his first Dakar rally on that day. It was early morning – 1,200km ahead – so the sun was very low. At just under 80 km/h, the Belgian hit a pile of sand of barely 30 cm. He went over the wheel, landed on his head and broke his neck. Malherbe lay face down on his hand, unable to move that hand. He literally felt all life draining from his body. He was paralyzed from the neck down and tetraplegic for the rest of his life.
A terrible end to a crazy career. Dédé, as André Malherbe was affectionately known, was three times world champion in the 500cc (1980, 1981 and 1984), three times vice world champion in the same class (1983, 1985, 1986). He won the FIM 125 Cup in 1974 and 1975, and was three-time team world champion in the Motocross of Nations in 1977, 1979 and 1980. He won gold twice in the Trophy of Nations, in 1977 and 1980. 26 GP 500 wins from 1978 to 1986, one GP 250 win in 1977, and 11 FIM 125 Cup wins from 1974 to 1975. Malherbe was also awarded the National Trophy for Sports Merit in 1984. An absolutely insane palmares, from one of the greatest champions our country has ever known. His serious injury did not prevent him from taking on challenges in his second life. Malherbe went through a deep valley, but eventually learned to breathe on his own again and said he really enjoyed the moments with his daughter. ‘Dede’ was admitted to hospital three weeks ago and died there today.
Rest in peace, Dede.
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