Home Sport Goncalves death casts shadow over Dakar Rally

Goncalves death casts shadow over Dakar Rally

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Gonçalves, the 2013 cross-country rallies world champion and 2015 runner-up and a four-time top 10 Dakar finisher, was racing his 13th Dakar.

The Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia was rocked by the tragic news that Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves (40) succumbed to injuries sustained in a fall 276km into Sunday’s special stage.

The organisers received an alert at 10.08am local time and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10.16 and found him unconscious after he went into cardiac arrest. Following resuscitation efforts, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Gonçalves, the 2013 cross-country rallies world champion and 2015 runner-up and a four-time top 10 Dakar finisher, was racing his 13th Dakar.

The motorcycle race of yesterday’s longest 546km stage of the gruelling race started in chilly Riyadh on a varied route to Wadi Al Dawasir and was provisionally won by Spanish Honda rider Joan Barreda Bort from KTM duo, Austrian Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides, Californian Ricky Brabec and Chilean José Ignacio Conrejo Flormino on two other Hondas, and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna).

Botswana’s Ross Branch ended 14th, while South African women riders Taye Perry Kirsten Landman were 50th and 66th respectively.

But the stage results will change once several riders who stopped to assist Gonçalves will regain their time lost there, with third man overall on Friday and defending champion Toby Price reclassified seventh and Stefan Svitko 14th after running over an hour late.

The revised overall results see Brabec leading Quintanilla, Flormino now ahead of Price, Barreda, Walkner and Benavides, while Branch was ranked 26th. Perry moved up to a stunning 57th and Landman 62nd.

In the car race, Spain’s double world rally and Dakar champion Carlos Sainz continued to stamp his authority on the race with his third stage victory out of seven aboard his Mini Buggy to consolidate his overall lead.

Nasser Al Attiyah was second for the proudly South African Gazoo Toyota team with Mr Dakar, Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel third in another Mini ahead of Toyota Hilux quartet, Dutch driver Bernhard Ten Brinke, Saudi local hero Yazeed Al Rajhi, Spain’s double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and SA star Giniel de Villiers.

Frenchman Matthieu Serradori recovered to 20th after digging his SA-made Century-Corvette out of the sand, and the SA built-and run Red-Lined Navaras came home 26th and 35th in the hands of SA TreasuryOne crew Hennie de Klerk and Johann Smalberger and Dubai-based Brits Thomas Bell and Patrick McMurren, respectively.

Overall, Sainz leads Al Attiyah by precisely 10 minutes, with Peterhansel third from Al Rajhi, Argentine Orlando Terranova (Mini), Ten Brinke and Serradori, while De Klerk moved four places up to 32nd and Bell to 38th.

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