Belgian rider Gaston Rahier, 125cc Motocross World Champion in 1975, 1976 and 1977, passed away from cancer yesterday in Paris, France, at the age of 58.

Gaston 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 1974. In 1975, he participated in the first ever 125cc Motocross World Championship and clinched the title with 8 wins. He successfully defended his title in 1976 and in 1977, with respectively 8 and 7 Grand Prix victories. Then he finished 2nd in 1978, 3rd in 1979, 9th in 1980 and 7th in 1981. He still holds the record of 29 Grand Prix victories in the 125cc class.

In 1982, his motocross career came to an abrupt end because of a terrible accident in which he almost lost a hand. He recovered, and how! In 1983, he participated for the first time in the demanding Paris-Dakar Rally but did not finish because of a mechanical breakdown when leading the event. He returned in 1984 and dominated, becoming the first non-French rider to claim victory.

He repeated this feat again in 1985. His Paris-Dakar and Pharahos Rally victories (1984. 1985, 1988), his professional approach towards Rallies and his open personality made him a celebrity, known not only by fans and supporters of the motorcycle sport but also by a much wider general public. He made a tremendous contribution towards making Rally racing a more widely popular sport.

As a member of the Belgian Motocross Team, he also won the Trophy (1974, 1975, 1976, 1978) and Motocross of Nations (1976).

The premature passing away of Gaston Rahier represents a great loss for the motorcycling fraternity. On behalf of the FIM, President Zerbi and CEO Guy Maitre present their sincere condolences to his family and many friends.

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