- Hero’s Paulo Goncalves passes away following a crash after 276km into the stage
- CS Santosh is the only rider competing for Hero now
- Honda riders Kevin and Joan finished the stage first and second, respectively
A pall of gloom descended over the entire 2020 Dakar Rally fraternity following the tragic demise of Hero MotoSports rider Paulo Goncalves. The Portuguese rider crashed after 276km into stage 7. On arrival at the crash scene, the rescue team found Paulo unconscious due to cardiac arrest. He was airlifted and moved to Layla Hospital, where the rider was announced dead.
This was Paulo’s 13th attempt in Dakar since his debut in 2006. The veteran rally rider had registered a top ten finish four times in his career while his best performance was witnessed in 2015 when he finished the rally on second position while representing factory Honda team. To mourn over the rider’s demise, the organisers have cancelled stage 8 for bikes and quads category.
Now, representing Hero MotoSports is just the Indian rider CS Santosh, who finished stage 7 at 32nd position and stands 35th overall. His team mates Joaquim Rodrigues and Sebastian Buhler had failed to complete stage 1 and stage 6, respectively, which makes them ineligible to be counted in the overall rankings. However, both the pilots continue to ride under the ‘Dakar Experience’ category.
As for another Indian team, Sherco TVS, both its riders have managed to retain their momentum and continue to be in the top 20. While Lorenzo Santolino finished the stage at 15th position, Adrien Metge stood 13th. Meanwhile, TVS’s Indian rider Harith Noah has been competing in the ‘Dakar Experience’ class and finished 33rd in stage 7.
Coming to the top three positions, although Honda’s Joan Barreda was the first to finish the stage, his teammate Kevin Benavides was faster and had lost a significant time in attending Paulo. Excluding this time, Kevin had clocked the best stage timing and was announced the winner while Joan stood runner up. Clinching the third rank was KTM’s Matthias Walkner who held on to his position from the previous stage, showing consistent progress from the initial stages.