Tributes have been flooding in following the tragic death of rally star Paulo Goncalves who died following a high speed crash in the Dakar rally. The 40 year old, runner-up in the 2015 Dakar and 2013 cross-country rallies world champion, crashed 276 km into a special test that was ultimately won by his former teammate Kevin Benavides, who tried in vain to assist the Portuguese rider together with Toby Price, the first competitor to reach the scene of the accident.
Toby Price posted: “Yesterday’s stage was starting well, great pace and feeling good on the bike until the refuel. Paulo took off into the stage about 5 minutes before me and the worst case had happened. I come over a small crest and seen a rider down and 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). Tried calling for more help and by this stage @stefansvitko (also a champion) had arrived and helping where he could. The first helicopter arrive and @luc_alphand_skiator was starting to help and as the medical helicopter arrive they were already on CPR and the doctors got to our sides and work 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 #speedy
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 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..”
Sam Sunderland said: “Paulo I was lucky to get to know you in the purest way possible by sharing our passion together for racing our bikes and pushing our limits and fighting to beat each other, what a warrior you proved to be in all senses on the bike yet the most humble kind hearted man off of it, a tear in my eye to write this message thinking of those you have left behind, Until we meet again my friend!”
Honda’s Ricky Brabec said: “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.”
Husky team boss Pela Renet said: “First of all I would like to wish Paulo’s family and friends my deepest sympathy on what has been a terrible day for all of rally sport. It’s very difficult to come to terms with what has happened today and for sure it affects all of us in the bivouac. Out of respect for Paulo’s family, tomorrow’s stage has been cancelled. I believe it is the right decision and gives the riders some time to come to terms with what has happened. We know the risks in our sport, but we always hope that something like this will never happen. However, we have to accept this now, and in honour of Paulo we have to continue.”
Alexandre Kowalski – Yamaha Europe Off-Road Racing Manager, said: “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.“
Check out the heroics of Paulo a few days earlier…
Our thoughts to go his family and friends at this terrible time.