Hero Motosports Team Rally’s Paulo Goncalves during stage 5
Hero Motosports Team Rally’s Paulo Goncalves during stage 5. Image Credit: Reuters

Wadi ad-Dawasir, Saudi Arabia: Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died after a crash during Sunday’s Dakar Rally seventh stage, organisers announced.

The 40-year-old suffered the fatal accident after 276 kilometres of the day’s ride from Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir.

“The organisers received an alert at 10:08 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, and finished second to Marc Coma in 2015.

The Honda 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. After recovering from surgery in time he said before the rally got under way: “It’s a victory for me to be here at the start.”

Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, tightened his grip on the Rally with his third stage win of this year’s edition when he completed the longest special between Riyadh and Wadi ad-Dawasir over two minutes clear of Toyota rival Nasser Al Attiyah with his fellow Mini driver Stephane Peterhansel in third.

The 57-year-old Sainz, a two-time former world rally champion, is in a strong position to add to his Dakar wins in 2010 and 2018.

With seven stages completed and five day’s racing to go, the Spaniard enjoys a comfortable 10-minute cushion over last year’s winner Al Attiyah, with 13-time Dakar champion Peterhansel a further nine minutes adrift.

Joan Barrera came out on top in the bikes category with American Ricky Brabec retaining his overall lead finishing fourth on the day.