The Portuguese rider suffered a crash at the 276km mark during Sunday's Stage 7 and reportedly went into cardiac arrest before medical aid arrived on the scene. He was airlifted to Layla hospital where officials pronounced him dead.
The 2020 Dakar Rally proceedings took a dark & tragic turn as Hero MotoSports rider Paulo Goncalves lost his life after a tragic accident during Stage 7 on Sunday. He is the first competitor to have died contesting the Dakar since Michal Hernik in 2015. The 2020 edition of the annual rally marked Paulo's 13th Dakar outing and his first for the Indian rally outfit as he had been inducted into the team just last year. The 2013 FIM Cross Country Rally World Champion and 2015 Dakar runner-up leaves behind him an illustrious career comprising of numerous international rally championship titles to his name and four top-10 Dakar finishes as well. He had made his Dakar debut in 2006. autoX extends its sincere condolences to Goncalves’ family, friends and team in the wake of this tragedy.
Sharing his thoughts on the incident, Mr Wolfgang Fischer, Head – Hero MotoSports Team Rally said, ‘Words cannot describe our shock and loss at this moment. It isn’t just a team, it is a family for us and we are devastated with the passing away of one of our members, Paulo Goncalves. He joined the Team in April last year and within no time became an integral part of the Hero MotoSports Team family. He will be dearly missed and always be fondly remembered by us. Paulo was a true champion, gentleman, reliable friend to everyone in the racing world and a role model as sportsman and personality. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.’
As for the Stage 7 results (Bikes), Monster Energy Honda rider Joan Barreda had secured victory in an emotionally-challenging Stage 7. However, post the Stage, the organisers decided to award Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda) and Toby Price with a time advantage as they had lost their respective rankings for stopping and assisting Goncalves at the time of his accident. As a result, Benavides was declared the Stage winner, with Barreda in second and Matthias Walkner (Red Bull KTM) in third. Meanwhile, Price climbed up to seventh. In the overall rankings though, Benavides' teammate Ricky Brabec continues to be on top with a lead of nearly 30 minutes. He's followed by Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) in second Jose Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda) in third. Toby Price is fourth overall.
In the Cars category, Bahrain JCW X-Raid driver Carlos Sainz once again outshone the rest as he secured his third stage win of the 2020 Dakar Rally. He's now exactly 10 minutes ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing's Nasser Al-Attiyah (who continues to hold second overall). Al-Attiyah, as before, is trailed by Sainz' teammate Stephane Peterhansel in the overall rankings. As for Al-Attiyah's teammate and two-time F1 champion, Fernando Alonso finished the stage in an impressive sixth place, giving him an overall ranking of 15th.
In order to pay their respects to Paulo, Dakar organisers have officially cancelled today's Stage 8 (Wadi Al-Dawasi loop) for the bikes and quads category, with the release of the following statement:
'The decease of Paulo Gonçalves during Stage 7 between Riyadh and Wadi Al-Dawasir has left the entire Dakar, especially the bikers, in shock. Paulo, a beloved figure of the rally, was immensely respected by both veterans and less experienced competitors who admired and were inspired by him. After meeting the riders and making a decision together with the entire motorbike family, the organisers have decided to cancel stage 8 for the motorbikes and quads category, which was supposed to take place on a loop course around Wadi Al-Dawasir, in order to give the riders time to mourn their friend.
The entire Dakar family will come together to pay tribute to Paulo at the briefing this evening.'
Overall classification after Stage 7 (Bikes):
1st - Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda)
2nd - Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
3rd - Jose Cornejo Florimo (Monster Energy Honda)
11th - Adrien Metge (Sherco TVS)
16th - Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco TVS)
35th - CS Santosh (Hero MotoSports)
Overall classification after Stage 7 (Cars):
1st - Carlos Sainz Sr. (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)
2nd - Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing)
3rd - Stephane Peterhansel (Bahrain JCW X-Raid)