A dark day in 2020 Dakar Rally ended with a tribute for the fallen Hero MotoSports Rally Team’s Paulo Goncalves, as motorsport community came in his support.

The Stage 7 on Sunday started on a bad note in Dakar in Saudi Arabia, with the death of Hero rider Goncalves after 273km mark. The Portuguese rider had a cardiac arrest and was then pronounced dead upon reaching the hospital.

Owing to the nature of the sport, a host of drivers and riders only came to know about the unfortunate incident after they completed the stage. There was certainly a scene of shock and disbelief of losing Goncalves, especially in the camps of Honda and Hero.

Goncalves raced for the Japanese manufacturer for fives years, before embarking a new journey, as he joined Hero in 2019, to compete with them in 2020. This was his 13th Dakar outing as he had his best run in 2015, when he finished second overall.

The organisers paid their tribute in the day end briefing as they decided to cancel the bike and quad run in Stage 8. “The decease of Paulo Goncalves during today’s 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, Goncalves” the statement summed up.

A video was also shared by the organisers for Paulo Goncalves – [WARNING: It contains footage of aftermath of the crash]:

Some more messages for Paulo Goncalves:




UPDATE: Following the death of Paulo Goncalves, Hero MotoSports Rally Team decided to pull out of Dakar 2020. Among the four racers the team entered, only CS Santosh – in 35th – was eligible to finish the rally under the lead category.

Goncalves’ brother-in-law Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler had issues in earlier stages like the Portuguese himself and were running under the ‘Dakar Experience’ category. The statement from the team read:

“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.”