WADI AD-DAWASIR, Saudi Arabia: Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died after a crash during Sunday’s Dakar Rally seventh stage, organizers announced.
The 40-year-old suffered the fatal crash after 276 kilometers of the day’s ride from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.
“The organizers received an alert at 10:08 (0708 GMT) and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10:16 and found him unconscious after going into cardiac arrest,” a statement on the rally’s official website reported.
“Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead,” it added.
Goncalves was competing in his 13th edition of the Dakar. He made his debut in 2006 when it was staged in Africa, and took second to Marc Coma in 2015 in South America.
The Indian-backed 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.
Following surgery, he said before the rally got underway: “It’s a victory for me to be here at the start.”
Goncalves was placed 46th in the overall bike standings after Friday’s sixth stage.
He was the 25th Dakar fatality since the inaugural edition of the grueling motorsport marathon in 1979, and the first since Polish rider Michal Hernik was killed in 2015 in Argentina.
“The entire Dakar caravan would like to extend its sincere condolences to his friends and family,” the organizers’ statement said.