It is with a heavy heart that we bring the saddest of news from the 2020 Dakar Rally. Paulo Goncalves, a Dakar Rally Legend and Hero MotoSport rider has passed away while competing on stage 7 of the rally in Saudi Arabia. The 40-year old Portuguese rider was competing in his 13th Dakar Rally having made his debut in 2006. On the seventh stage of the event, Goncalves suffered a fall at 276km of the 741km long stage from capital Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.
The organisers released a statement: “The organisers received an alert at 10:08 and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10:16 and found him unconscious after going into cardiac arrest,” organisers said in a statement
“Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead.
“The entire Dakar caravan would like to extend its sincere condolences to his friends and family.”
Hero MotoSports sent out their condolences with the following statement to announce the departure from 2020 Dakar Rally: “The entire Hero MotoSports Team is in deep mourning after the tragic demise of our rider Paulo Goncalves on Sunday. With immense respect for our departed teammate, Hero MotoSports will not continue its participation at the Dakar Rally 2020. The other riders, along with the team management and support staff, will join the grieving family of Paulo.”
The last time death occurred on the stages of the Dakar was in 2015 when Polish rider Michal Hernik passed away in Argentina.
Competing at the Dakar since 20016, Goncalves has four top 10 finishes to his name, with his best results coming in 2015 when he finished second overall only to be beaten by Marc Coma. He gained the nickname Speedy Goncalves by his rally peers. Goncalves was riding along with the leaders till stage 3 when his Speedbrain built Hero Dakar Rally bike suffered mechanical issues and was forced to change his engine in the middle of the desert by himself during the stage. This dropped him down after losing valuable time to 46th overall after Stage 6.
Goncalves had competed in the Dakar on three continents having stated from its origins in Africa, then followed by all but one year when the Dakar was held in South America and on the Dakar’s debut in the middle east this year in Saudi Arabia.
Goncalves on his previous five stints at the event raced with Team Honda, and he made his debut with Hero MotoSports Team Rally this year at the Dakar riding alongside his brother-in-law Joaquim Rodrigues and India Rider CS Santosh along with Sebastian Buhler.
Most of the riders stopped to support the medical team, the time awarded to the riders saw Kevin Benavides. However, in order to allow the competitors to mourn the loss of their fallen comrade, the Dakar organisers cancelled the eight stage of event for Bikes and Quads.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Paulo Goncalves, the Hero MotoSports team and the entire Dakar caravan.
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