Team Suzuki - Gaston Rahier - Dirt Rider Magazine

In early February, Belgian three-time 125cc Motocross World Champion Gaston Rahier passed away from cancer at the age of 58. Life as a racer on full-size bikes had to be tough for someone 5 feet 3 inches tall, but Rahier scored his first World championship point in the 500cc class in 1968. He then concentrated on the 250cc class and won his first Grand Prix in '74. In '75, he participated in the first-ever 125cc Motocross World championship and clinched the title with eight wins.Rahier successfully defended his title in '76 and '77, with eight and seven Grand Prix victories, respectively. Then he finished second in '78, third in '79, ninth in '80 and seventh in '81. He still holds the record of 29 Grand Prix victories in the 125cc class. As a member of the Belgian motocross team, he also won the Trophy (1974, '75, '76 and '78) and Motocross des Nations ('76).In '82, Rahier's motocross career came to an abrupt halt after a terrible accident in which he almost lost a hand. He recovered, and in '83, he participated for the first time in the demanding Paris-Dakar Rally aboard a factory BMW twin-the dominant brand of the era-but did not finish because of a mechanical breakdown, though he led the event. He returned in '84 and dominated, becoming the first non-French rider to claim victory, and repeated the feat in '85. His Paris-Dakar and Pharaoh's rally victories ('84, '85 and '88) and his professional approach made rally racing more widely popular; and his open personality made him a celebrity. Those works BMWs had a 42-inch seat height and were very heavy with full tanks, but the diminutive Rahier flew on them.We haven't lost many legendary MX heroes to illness, and although not as young as Americans Chuck Stearns, Pete Snorteland or Donny Schmit, Rahier was still too young to lose so soon.