Andre Malherbe was the coolest rider in the GP paddock. Although blessed with an awkward and very ‘European’ riding style, he was smooth, very fast, extremely tough mentally, and probably Thorpe’s most formidable competitor.
Off track he had film star looks, a beautiful and glamourous wife and much respect from all the competitors.
Hailing from Belgium, he lived in Monaco, the tax haven home of the rich, the beautiful and the F1 stars.
Andre came along just at the right time for the big money days of GP racing. At the Italian GP in 1985, which was not that far from Monaco, he drove to the race in his brand new Ferrari Testarossa. You don’t get much cooler than that.
In 1985 at the British GP at Farleigh Castle Malherbe put in an inspired performance. David Thorpe crashed in the first turn of the second moto and famously tore through the field to come from last to first in 4 laps. After succumbing to this amazing comeback from Thorpe, many would have given up. Andre, however, cleverly locked on to Thorpe’s back wheel, shadowing him, studying his lines and learning just how the incredible Thorpe had managed to squeeze so much speed out of the slick track. Malherne upped his game, and for the remainder of the race the two circulated at breakneck speed, never more than a few feet apart before Andre snuck back through into the lead with just over a lap to go to take the win and the overall.
Sadly, Andre suffered a serious spinal injury in a post-GP racing accident competing in the Paris-Dakar rally.
He made a much-welcomed appearance recently at the 2009 Twin shock cup at Farleigh Castle, where both fans and riders, including his old adversary Thorpe, showed their respect and appreciation for this great former champion.
André won three 500c World Motocross Championships, in 1980, 1981 and 1984, all on Honda’s. His record of 41 Grand Prix victories leaves him fourth on the all-time winners list.
One of the greats.
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