Three-time FIM 500cc Motocross World Champion Andre Malherbe, of Belgium, was in a life-or-death situation after breaking his neck while competing in the Paris-to-Dakar Motorcycle Rally in North Africa. Malherbe was riding a Yamaha in the sixth leg of the 22-day event when he crashed in a high-speed dune section in the Sahara Desert in Algeria, near the town of Tamanrassett. He was transferred to a hospital in Paris, as the crash left him with no feeling below his neck. According to his friend Roger DeCoster, who spoke to Cycle News, "He has no movement in his hands or arms, but he can talk. He has been operated on, and his chances for a full recovery aren't good—one in a million."
Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Jimmy Gaddis emerged as the standout rider in the weekend's Cow Palace Arenacross in San Francisco, California, topping both the 125 and 250 Pro classes on the first night. He then split wins with Kawasaki's 15-year-old prodigy Robbie Reynard, who would not be able to race 125SX or the Nationals until his 16th birthday in May.
Honda XR600-mounted Scott Summers won the opening round of the AMA National Hare Scrambles Series in Texas over former pro motocrosser (and future off-road star) Rodney Smith and past 250 and 500 AMA Motocross Champion Kent Howerton. Summers' primary rival, defending champion Scott Plessinger (Aaron Plessinger's dad), crashed out on the first lap.
Over three days in Dortmund, Germany, concluding on January 10, Americans Erik Kehoe and Mike Healey and South Africa's Greg Albertyn split the three main event wins at the Westfalenhalle Supercross. Albertyn was the reigning 125cc World Champion at the time, riding for Jan De Groot's Honda team.
Tim Ferry topped the 125 and 250 Pro classes at Orlando MX Park in the 23rd Annual Florida Winter-AMA Series, while out West, Tallon Vohland won four overall victories in the two-day CMC Golden State Nationals at Marysville E Street MX track in Marysville, California.
If Eli Tomac fans are looking for something to be positive about after last Saturday night's 22nd-place finish, they should check out January 10, 2009. One week after crashing out of the season-opening Anaheim Supercross and taking a 17th-place finish, San Manuel/Red Bull Yamaha rider James Stewart edged out his bitter rival Chad Reed for the win at Chase Field in Phoenix. The two crossed the finish line less than a second apart.
"It was a clean race, that was the biggest thing," said Stewart, who had taken Reed's spot on the Yamaha team despite the fact that Reed was the defending AMA Supercross Champion. "I like racing him clean; that was a fun race. I really wasn't worried about him coming in and trying to clean me out. I had just enough of a gap where he could have... We got close a few times at the end but he didn't try to take me out; that was cool on his part. I'll definitely show that same respect when it's the other way around."
From Phoenix on, Stewart would not lose another race for six weeks. In what must be considered the best run of his career, Stewart ended the 2008 season with 13 straight wins (he won the Phoenix SX, then underwent knee surgery, then came back and won all 24 motos and 12 overalls outdoors) and then reeled off seven more SX wins after his opening-night fiasco. That makes for a Carmichael-esque 20 wins in 21 races.
That same night, Makita Suzuki rider Ryan Dungey showed up in Fox Racing gear after having terminated his contract with ONE Industries after they signed his nemesis Jason Lawrence to a clothing contract. In an incredible and immediate display of karma, Dungey won the main event in Phoenix while Lawrence, the reigning 250SX West Region Champion, failed to qualify. Dungey remained in Fox gear for the rest of his racing career.