The motorsport world lost one of its stars after Paulo Goncalves’ tragic crash resulted in the rider losing his life during stage 7 of the 2020 Dakar Rally. One of the riskiest and challenging motorsport events in the World, this year’s Dakar Rally is being held in Saudi Arabia. In an official statement, the racing outfit declared, “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.”
According to the organisers, 40-year old Paulo was negotiating stage 7, when he crashed. The 13-time Dakar veteran from Portugal was found unconscious after going into a cardiac arrest post the crash. Fellow competitors Kevin Benavides and Toby Price stopped their race to assist Gonçalves. The organisers received an alert at 10:08 and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10:16. Following resuscitation efforts, Paulo was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead. The Portuguese motorcycle rider fell after 276km of the special stage from the capital Riyadh to Wadi al-Dawasir. After Polish rider Michal Hernik lost his life in Argentina during the event in 2015, this is the second death at the endurance event. Paulo finished in the top 10 at the Dakar Rally four times and was runner-up in 2015.
Paulo suffered mechanical problems on Friday which required him to change the bike’s engine to stay in the race. After starting on a great note, Paulo dropped to 46th overall after the sixth stage. He was one of the few decorated riders who had competed in the Dakar rally on three continents – Africa, South America and the Middle East. We extend our deepest condolences to Paulo’s family, friends and the team in the wake of this incident.