Dakar legend Paulo Gonçalves has been killed in a tragic accident during his 13th Dakar Rally.
The runner-up of the 2015 edition and 2013 cross-country rallies world champion crashed 276 km into a special that was ultimately won by his former teammate Kevin Benavides, who tried in vain to assist the Portuguese rider together with Toby Price, the first competitor to reach the scene of the accident.
Hero Motosports paid tribute to Paulo. ‘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.’
The passing of Paulo Gonçalves during 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.