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:
We are sad beyond words to share that our Hero, Paulo Goncalves, passed away today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family. A true champion, a great human being and, above all, a kindred spirit.
RIP, Speedy Goncalves. #StormTheSands #RaceTheLimits #Dakar2020 pic.twitter.com/hwff5WirNu
— Hero MotoSports (@hero_motosports) January 12, 2020
Our hearts and prayers go out to the rider Paulo Goncalves and his loved ones. Unfortunate events such as this are always a tragedy, touching us all on a basic human level. May god be with you all.
— عبدالعزيز بن تركي الفيصل (@AbdulazizTF) January 12, 2020
The great Paulo Gonçalves just passed away in the Dakar…he was an example as a pilot and as a man…and a good friend! My deepest condolences to his family and to the Portuguese federation!
— Jorge Viegas (@jorgepviegas) January 12, 2020
Día muy triste. Un abrazo inmenso para la familia y amigos de Paulo Goncalves. Un campeón. Descansa en paz piloto. pic.twitter.com/uKLFuButt3
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) January 12, 2020
One minute of silence was held tonight during the briefing in memory of Paulo Gonçalves.
Une minute de silence a été observée durant le briefing pour rendre hommage à Paulo Gonçalves.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 12, 2020
— PaloCTM! 2020 (@PaloCTMV2) January 12, 2020
In light of the tragic news of Paulo Gonçalves passing, everyone at Dorna Sports and the whole MotoGP community would like to send their condolences to Paulo’s family, friends and the wider Dakar community https://t.co/q60otj7Hfw
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) January 12, 2020
VAS A SEGUIR ACELERANDO EN EL CIELO!
No tengo palabras para explicar la tristeza que tengo. Hoy cuando llegue al punto del accidente, me detuve y me paré al lado de Toby, y ya estaban los médicos trabajando por lo que no me acerqué + pic.twitter.com/2mU2u9Effb
— Kevin Benavides (@kmbenavides) January 12, 2020
A very hard day! The worst stage in my life! I still can't believe it. He was one of the best in the bivouac. A true example and a real Dakar racer. All the world loved you Paulo! Lots of love to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/TrLFw153jB
— Laia Sanz (@LaiaSanz_) January 12, 2020
Día triste para el motociclismo. Acabamos de perder a Paulo Gonçalves. Un abrazo a toda la familia. Descansa en paz. pic.twitter.com/wuvcizraxi
— Jorge Lorenzo (@lorenzo99) January 12, 2020
O espírito de aventura de um verdadeiro herói, nunca se esquece. Descansa em paz, Paulo Gonçalves. pic.twitter.com/USp3HxLW7m
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) January 12, 2020
— SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) January 12, 2020
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.”