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Industry mourns death of Dakar legend Paulo Goncalves

The Hero MotoSports Team Rally is profoundly grieved to report that its Portuguese rider, Paulo Goncalves passed away this morning during the 7th stage of the Dakar Rally 2020.

Paulo, aged 40, passed away from a fall sustained 276 kilometers into today’s special. The organizers 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.

He has had an illustrious journey in the rally-racing world, including a series of remarkable performances at the world’s most prestigious rallies. He was crowned 2013 FIM Cross Country Rally World Champion. He also held the runners-up position at the Dakar Rally in 2015.

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.”

Here’s how other race teams reacted to the tragedy:

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing

The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team are deeply saddened by the passing of Dakar Rally legend Paulo Goncalves on stage seven. On what has been a hugely emotional day for all involved in the event, the popular Portuguese rider, competing in his 13th Dakar, lost his life following a fall midway through today’s special.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna wish Paulo’s friends, family and Hero MotoSports team their sincerest condolences at this difficult time.

Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager:

“First of all I would like to wish Paulo’s family and friends my deepest sympathy on what has been a terrible day for all of rally sport. It’s very difficult to come to terms with what has happened today and for sure it affects all of us in the bivouac. Out of respect for Paulo’s family, tomorrow’s stage has been cancelled. I believe it is the right decision and gives the riders some time to come to terms with what has happened. We know the risks in our sport, but we always hope that something like this will never happen. However, we have to accept this now, and in honor of Paulo we have to continue.”

Red Bull KTM

The start of the second half of the 2020 Dakar Rally has been overshadowed by the untimely death of Paulo Goncalves – the experienced rally racer who for many years has competed shoulder-to-shoulder with Red Bull KTM Factory racing and its riders.


Casting a dark shadow over the 741-kilometre stage, the experienced 40-year-old Portuguese racer was competing in his 13th Dakar.

As a mark of respect, tomorrow’s stage eight from Wadi Al-Dawasir to Wadi Al-Dawasir has been cancelled, for the motorcycle class, by Event organisers ASO.

The Red Bull KTM Rally team and all at KTM wish Paulo’s family, team and friends their sincerest condolences.

Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Team Manager:

“It has been an extremely sad day for the rally family and of course we send our condolences to Paulo’s family and friends. He was very much loved in the paddock – not only a great rider but also an amazing person and a legend of our sport. Obviously, the news has shocked us deeply, but no one more so than Toby, who was the first to reach Paulo after his crash. We are thankful that in respect for Paulo’s loved ones, and to pay tribute to a great man, tomorrow’s stage will be cancelled for the motorcycles. A day without racing will give all riders the chance to remember Paulo and clear their heads before continuing on Tuesday. Of course, we all hope for a safe finish to the Event.”

Monster Energy Yamaha

The Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team, together with everyone involved in the 42nd running of the Dakar Rally, tonight mourn the loss of one of rally racing’s much-loved competitors – Paulo Goncalves.

The experienced rally racer, who was contesting his 13th Dakar Rally, sadly lost his life 276 kilometres into today’s stage seven.

All at Yamaha offer their heartfelt condolences to Paulo’s family, friends and team at this very sad time.

Tomorrow’s stage eight has been cancelled by the Dakar Rally organisers as a mark of respect.

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