Monday, 24 February, 2020

Dakar Rally tragedy as Portuguese rider Goncalves dies

Paulo Goncalves suffered a fatal crash in the Dakar Rally's seventh stageMore Paulo Goncalves suffered a fatal crash in the Dakar Rally's seventh stageMore
Cary Erickson | 12 January, 2020, 20:56

Hero's Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves waves during the podium ceremony in Jeddah on January 4, 2020, ahead of the 2020 Dakar Rally.

The tragedy took place after 276 kilometers (171 miles) of the day's Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir test, which is mostly comprised of sand planes and dunes.

Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died after a crash during Sunday's Dakar Rally seventh stage, organisers announced. The organisers received an alert at 10:08, after which a helicopter was dispatched to find the rider.

Goncalves was contesting his 13th Dakar for Indian manufacturer Hero, and was 46th overall when the rally resumed on Sunday following yesterday's rest day. He had finished in the top 10 four times, and his best performance at the rally came in 2015, when he finished second behind victor Marc Coma.

"Following resuscitation efforts, (he) was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead".

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Speedy Goncalves, as he was fondly called, had an incredible stint in Dakar having competed for Honda, BMW, Husqvarna as well as Speedbrain. He finished second in 2015, after a great duel with Marc Coma.

The last Dakar competitor to be killed was Polish rider Michal Hernik in 2015 in Argentina.

Sainz, a two-time former world rally champion, is in a strong position to add to his Dakar wins in 2010 and 2018.

"The entire Dakar caravan would like to extend its honest condolences to his friends and family", the organisers' statement said. Rodrigues broke his back in a Dakar crash two years ago but returned after extensive surgery and was 27th after stage six.