Stage Seven of the 2020 Dakar Rally has proven a sad day in the event’s history with Paulo Goncalves passing away after a fall 276 kilometres into the special, with medical staff finding him unconscious on arrival, after being alerted to the incident and quickly attending. Following resuscitation efforts in situ, he was transported to Layla Hospital via helicopter where he was sadly pronounced dead.
As a mark of respect to such a beloved figure in the Dakar bivouac who had been a fixture at the Dakar Rally since 2006 and was competing in his 13th Dakar, Monday’s motorbike and quad stage has been cancelled in order to give riders time to mourn their friend.
Our condolences to his friends, family and fellow Dakar competitors and team members.
Stage Seven saw Joan Barreda finish the stage as the first rider, however Kevin Benavides was one of several riders, including Toby Price and Stefan Svitko, who stopped to provide assistance to downed rider Paulo Goncalves, with results later updated to take this into account.
As a result Kevin Benavides claimed the top position for Stage Seven, finishing 1min-23s ahead of teammate Joan Barreda, while KTM’s Matthias Walkner was third, 4min-17s off the leading time.
Dakar leader Ricky Brabec made for the third Monster Energy Honda Team rider in the top five, with teammate Jose Cornejo sixth.
Toby Price was seventh fastest in the updated results – 7min-57s off the leading pace, with the Dakar noting he spent a considerable amount of time trying to assist Paulo Goncalves, with the organiser sharing earlier, “Toby Price has finished Stage Seven in a time 1 h and 23 minutes slower than Barreda’s. However, the Australian spent a long time trying to help Paulo Goncalves, so his actual position will be calculated later today as well Stefan Svitko’s.”
The RockStar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing duo of Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew short were eighth and ninth, while Franco Caimi was top Yamaha in tenth. Quintanilla is also reportedly struggling with tendinitis in his left hand.
Rodney Faggotter (Yamaha Motor Australia) finished the day in 19th place, 20min-02s off the leading pace.
The standings following Stage Seven now see Ricky Brabec leading with a time of 28h 25min-01s, with Pablo Quintanilla running second, 24min-48s off the leader’s pace. Third is Jose Cornejo, with Toby Price fourth – 28min-44s off leader Brabec. Joan Barreda completes the top five.
“On arriving we heard the news about Paulo. We all know that motorcycling is a dangerous sport, but today is a really sad day for the people of Cross-Country Rallies. Our thoughts are with the family. The race standings don’t mean anything anymore. It’s secondary. Life goes way beyond sport.”
KTM’s Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides now sit in sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Skyler Jones, Franco Caimi and Stefan Svitko.
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.”
Rodney Faggotter sits just outside the top-10 in 13th position in the general rankings.
Stage Eight was set to take place in the south of Saudi Arabia, looping back to Wadi Al-Dawasir, however has now been cancelled for the bike and quads categories to give riders time to mourn.
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