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Today is a sad day for Motorsports as we lost one of the veteran taking part in the 2020 Dakar rally. Paulo Goncalves, who is riding for Hero MotoSport Factory Rally team has passed away from a fall in the middle of a special stage.
The Portuguese racing on motorbike no. 8, was 276 kilometres into today's special stage, where he had a massive fall on the bike. The organisers were alerted of the fall and quickly reached the spot with a medical helicopter. They found Goncalves unconscious after going into cardiac arrest. They tried to bring back the rider at the site, which did not happen. Helicopter then took him to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead.
This was Goncalves' 13th Dakar and the 40-year-old was one of the most experienced riders on the field. The rider made his Dakar debut in 2006 and finished four times in the top 10 including a runner-up finish in 2015 behind Marc Coma. Paulo Goncalves was also the 2013 cross-country rallies world champion and was currently placed 46th overall at the end of Stage 6 in the current season of the Dakar Rally.
The Hero rider only made it to this year's first Dakar staged in Saudi Arabia after recovering from a fractured spleen in a crash in his native Portugal in December. After recovering from surgery in time he said before the rally got underway: "It's a victory for me to be here at the start."
Called as Speedy Goncalves, the Portuguese rider had an incredible stint in Dakar having competed for many manufacturers including Honda, BMW, Husqvarna; among others. Goncalves is the first competitor to die while contesting the Dakar since Michal Hernik in 2015.
As ever in all the races the show must go on. Kevin Benavides (Monster Energy Honda Team) won stage 7 of the 2020 Dakar rally. While, his teammate Joan Barreda finished first, Kevin had lost time helping Paulo Goncalves. The time spent helping was later subtracted from his total time declaring him the winner of the Stage 7.
The seventh rally stage was held between Riyadh and Wadi Al Dawasir. The total race distance was 741 kilometers with 546 kilometers of Special stage, making it one of the longest special stages of the entire Dakar rally.
C S Santosh who is riding for Hero MotoSport has finished seventh stage in 32nd position. The Indian rally ace rider is now placed 35th overall. With events unfolded today, C S Santhosh's job just got harder as he is the only one ranking in overall standings for Hero MotoSport, and has to carry the torch alone for the Indian manufacturer in 2020 Dakar.
Sherco TVS Rally team riders Adrien Metge and Lorenzo Santolin completed the Stage 7 of the rally in 13th and 15th position, respectively. Metge and Santolin are the only riders eligible for overall ranking in the Sherco TVS Rally team, and are now placed 11th and 16th overall, respectively.
Hero MotoSport Rally Team Standings After Stage 7
35th Position - C S Santosh
Sherco TVS Rally Team Standing After Stage 7
11th Position - Adrien Metge
16th Position - Lorenzo Santolin
Overall Standings Bike Category After Stage 7
1st Position - Ricky Brabec (Monster Energy Honda)
2nd Position - Pablo Quintanilla (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory)
3rd Position - José Ignacio Cornejo (Monster Energy Honda)
Thoughts About The 2020 Dakar Stage 7
We now understand why Dakar is known to be the toughest rally in the world. Nothing can prepare to take on these difficult terrain in the harshest of weather. DriveSpark extends our sincere condolences to Paulo Goncalves' friends and family, the Hero MotoSports team, and the Dakar fraternity during this time. Ride In Peace Speedy.