Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died at the Dakar Rally, becoming the first competitor killed since the event's move to Saudi Arabia this year. At 10:16 a.m. local time, he crashed and a medical helicopter was dispatched.
A helicopter arrived with the rider eight minutes after organisers were alerted to the crash, but he was pronounced dead at Layla Hospital.
"Everyone at Dorna Sports and the whole MotoGP community would like to send their condolences to Paulo's family, friends and the wider Dakar community", Grand Prix motorcycle racing tweeted. The 2013 FIM Cross Country Rally World Champion and 2015 Dakar runner-up leaves behind him an illustrious career comprising of numerous global rally championship titles to his name and four top-10 Dakar finishes as well. During this edition, Goncalves was 46th in the rankings.
Goncalves" passing now leaves Santosh as the only Hero rider eligible for overall honours at the Dakar Rally as both Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler are riding in the "Dakar Experience' category after having failed to finish stage one and stage six, respectively.
"I'm not coming from the dunes at all but it seems that I can get a good rhythm and a good flow in the dunes and I'm enjoying so far this second week of the Dakar".
The experienced Portuguese had competed in the Dakar on three continents, from its origins in Africa to South America and this year's debut in the Middle East.
Many might remember Goncalves from his heroic crash recovery in the 2016 Dakar Rally.
The 2013 cross country rallies world champion was representing the Indian Hero Motorsports team, along with his brother-in-law Joaquim Rodrigues, after five years racing with Honda.
Australian Toby Price, the defending motorcycle champion, also had lost time reinstated after assisting Goncalves and ended the day in fourth position, 28 minutes off the lead.