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ADV NewsVeteran Rider Paulo Goncalves Dies After Crash in Dakar Rally

Veteran Rider Paulo Goncalves Dies After Crash in Dakar Rally

 The Dakar mourns one of its most experienced and beloved competitors.

Published on 01.12.2020

Portuguese rider, Paulo Goncalves has passed away during the 7th stage of Dakar. Golcalves, 40, was a veteran of the Dakar Rally racing for the Hero Motosports team this year.

The tragic fall happened 276 kilometers (171 miles) into the Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir stage route. One of the first to reach the scene of the accident was Toby Price, who along with Kevin Benavides and Stefan Svitko tried in vain to assist Paulo. 

The organizers received an alert at 10:08 and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the rider at 10:16, finding him unconscious after going into cardiac arrest.


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“Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead,” organizers said in a statement.

Golcalves was taking part in his 13th Dakar. He made his debut in 2006 and had finished four times in the top 10, including an impressive performance as runner-up to Marc Coma in 2015. In 2013, he won the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship. 

Paulo had engine trouble in stage 3 of this year’s race but was able to continue on after performing an engine swap in the middle of the desert by himself. This gave him a time penalty that put him back in the standings. As of stage six he was in 46th place overall, but he continued pushing hard for stage results each day, including a 4th place finish in stage 4. 

Stage 8 Canceled for Bikes/Quads

Paulo was one of the most beloved racers in the rally and his ‘never quit’ attitude embodied the spirit of Dakar. He was immensely respected by both veterans and less experienced competitors alike who admired and were inspired by him. The passing of Paulo Goncalves on stage 7 has left the entire Dakar in shock. After meeting the riders and making a decision together with the entire motorbike family, the organizers have decided to cancel stage 8 for the motorbikes and quads category in order to give the riders time to mourn.

ADV Pulse would like to extend its condolences to Goncalves’ friends and family and his Hero Motosports team in this difficult time. 

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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5 thoughts on “Veteran Rider Paulo Goncalves Dies After Crash in Dakar Rally

  1. 2006 Dakar in Africa. In the middle of the rally, they swapped the starting order for one of the stages. So, I started before Paulo that day. He and the other top riders caught up to me in a rocky sandy section. Just then, I hit a rock and fell hard. Everyone else carried on, but Paulo stopped and asked if I was OK. I quickly waved him on, and I considered him a quality and caring competitor from then on. Whenever I saw him, he was smiling and supportive of everyone else in the rally. He’ll be missed.

    • Thanks for sharing that story Charlie. He really seemed like a fantastic guy who touched a lot of people he interacted with in the sport. He’ll be sorely missed by all of those he inspired over the years.