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Stage 8 of Dakar Rally axed as tributes pour in for Paulo Goncalves

Stage 8 of the 2020 Dakar Rally is cancelled to allow riders and teams to mourn the passing of Paulo Goncalves, following his death in an accident

The eighth stage of the 2020 Dakar Rally has been cancelled for motorbikes and quads as a mark of respect for Paulo Goncalves, who was tragically killed in an accident on Stage 7.

The Portuguese rider, competing for the Hero Motorsports Rally Team, fell 276km into the Riyadh-Wadi Al Dawasir test and suffered a cardiac arrest. Despite being reached just eight minutes after the alarm was raised, Goncalves succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The death has hit the motorcycling community hard with Goncalves regarded as a legend of the event having made his debut back in 2010 and was a runner-up in 2015 to Marc Coma.

As such, organisers have opted to cancel Stage 8 of the event to give ‘riders time to mourn their friend’.

“The decease of Paulo Gonçalves during today's stage 7 between Riyadh and Wadi Al-Dawasir has left the entire Dakar, especially the bikers, in shock. Paulo, a beloved figure of the rally, was immensely respected by both veterans and less experienced competitors who admired and were inspired by him.

“After meeting the riders and making a decision together with the entire motorbike family, the organisers have decided to cancel stage 8 for the motorbikes and quads category, which was supposed to take place on a loop course around Wadi Al-Dawasir, in order to give the riders time to mourn their friend.

“The entire Dakar family will come together to pay tribute to Paulo at the briefing this evening.”

Goncalves is the first rider to die on the Dakar Rally since 2015 and it comes in the first year of the event being held in Saudi Arabia.

Several teams – including Goncalves’ own Hero Motorsports team and MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez - paid tribute to the fallen rider and welcomed the decision to put racing aside for a day.

Hero Motorsports – Wolfgang Fischer

“Words cannot describe our shock and loss at this moment. It isn’t just a team, it is a family for us and we are devastated with the passing away of one of our members, Paulo Goncalves. He joined the Team in April last year and within no time became an integral part of the Hero MotoSports Team family. He will be dearly missed and always be fondly remembered by us. Paulo was a true champion, gentleman, reliable friend to everyone in the racing world and a role model as sportsman and personality. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

KTM – 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.”

Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Manager

“All of the Yamaha family and the Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team are deeply saddened by what has happened today. Our thoughts and condolences to Paulo’s team, friends within the rally world and especially his family. Today we lost a great man.”

Ricky Brabec - Current Dakar Rally leader

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