It is with a heavy heart that we report the death of Paulo Gonçalves, who died Sunday while racing Stage 7 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Always one of the riders to watch each year at The Dakar, Gonçalves was competing this year under the Hero Motorcycles factory team banner, making his 13th start at this iconic and grueling race.
As is typical with the Dakar Rally, reliable information is difficult to come by, but we do know that KTM rider Toby Price was the first to reach Gonçalves after the incident.
Additionally, the ASO has posted this short message about the incident and the death of the 40-year-old racer:
Paulo Gonçalves, racing on motorbike no 8, has passed away from a fall sustained 276 kilometres into today’s special. 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.
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.
The runner-up finisher in the 2015 edition of the Dakar Rally, Gonçalves was having a tougher time in 2020, after having to replace his engine during Friday’s racing. Out of contention for the lead, the Portuguese rider said he was left only to push for good stage results, with the overall rally raid win too far out of his grasp.
Always a fan favorite, and popular with the other riders as well, the absence of Paulo Gonçalves is surely being felt by family and friends around the world, as well as in Saudi Arabia with the racing paddock. Asphalt & Rubber wishes them our deepest condolences.
In respect to Paulo, Monday’s stage for the Dakar Rally has been canceled for the motorcycle and quad competitors so that the Dakar bivouac can mourn the loss of their racing colleague.
Source: ASO; Photo: © 2020 Florent Gooden / ASO – DPPI