Dakar crash costs Paulo Goncalves his life

40-year-old Portuguese Dakar Rally legend Paulo Goncalves died during the seventh stage of competition today in Dakar 2020.

Paulo Gonçalves died from a fall sustained 276 kilometres into today’s special.

Australian Toby Price was the first rider on the scene and explains below how the situation unfolded.


Toby Price

“Paulo took off into the stage about five-minutes before me and I came over a small crest and saw a rider down and it was Paulo. Worst fears kicked in cause I knew this one was serious. I called for help ASAP and helped get him on his side (plus more serious checks). Then tried calling for more help and by this stage Stefan Svitko (also a champion) had arrived and was helping where he could. The first helicopter arrive and Luc Alphand was starting to help and as the medical helicopter arrived they were already on CPR and the doctors got to our sides and worked all they could. Helping holding drip bags, getting bags of medical equipment and guiding other riders around a bad scene. We all worked as long as we could but there was nothing we could do. I helped assist carrying him to the helicopter as it was the right thing to do. I was first at his side and wanted to be the last to leave. We will miss you’re smile and laughter in the bivouac Paulo.  My last 250km of special stage was tough, I’m dehydrated from tears. At the moment I’m not even worried about the result, I couldn’t care. Many thoughts with family and friends on this day, we don’t start the rally day 8 for bike #8 in respect to family and friends and the loss of a HERO..  Thankyou to everyone for the messages of support worldwide, especially those from Portugal with all the kind things. We are human and this is nothing but just a race, I would give up all my wins to have any of my fellow racing mates back with us.”


A medical helicopter was with Goncalves within eight-minutes of the alert being raised to find 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.

This was 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.

Paulo Gonçalves, the 2013 cross-country rallies world champion, had experienced technical problems early in the race and was sitting in 46th place overall after stage 6 of the 2020 Dakar.

Our condolences to his friends, family and fellow Dakar competitors and team members.

Paulo Goncalves won the Cross Country Rally World Championship in 2013
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