BIKE RIDER GONCALVES DIES AFTER DAKAR RALLY CRASH
Wadi ad Dawasir, Saudi Arabia - Portuguese motorbike rider Paulo Goncalves has died after a crash in the Dakar Rally on Sunday, the 40 year old becoming the gruelling motorsport marathon's 25th fatality.
Goncalves suffered the fatal accident after 276km of the seventh stage from Riyadh to Wadi ad-Dawasir.
"The organisers received an alert at 10:08 (0708 GMT) 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 on site, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead," it added.
Dakar director David Castera revealed it was Australian defending bike champion Toby Price who was the first to discover the stricken Goncalves lying on the sand.
Goncalves was competing in his 13th edition of the Dakar. He made his debut in 2006 when it was staged in Africa, and took second to Marc Coma in 2015 in South America.
The Indian-backed Hero Motosports rider only made it to this year's first Dakar staged in Saudi Arabia after recovering from a ruptured spleen in a crash in his native Portugal in December.
Goncalves was placed 46th in the overall bike standings after Friday's sixth stage. His death cast a pall over the seventh stage action won by Carlos Sainz in a Mini with Joan Barreda timing fastest in the bike category.
The last Dakar competitor to be killed was Polish rider Michal Hernik in 2015 in Argentina.
"The entire Dakar caravan would like to extend its sincere condolences to his friends and family," the organisers' statement said.
With 20 of the 25 Dakar deaths since the inaugural edition in 1979 made up of bike riders Castera dwelt on the risks faced by riders.
"We know that bikes are dangerous.
"You set off in the morning, you have a knot in your stomach sometimes because you don't have any protection, you have nothing.
"They all know that, these riders," said Castera, a veteran of five Dakar Rally on a motorbike.
On a sombre day in the desert Sainz tightened his grip on the overall car standings with his third stage win of this year's edition.
The 57 year old Spaniard in a Mini 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.
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 he enjoys a comfortable ten-minute cushion over last year's winner Attiyah, with 13-time Dakar champion Peterhansel a further nine minutes adrift.
Joan Barreda came out on top in the bikes category with American Ricky Brabec retaining his overall lead finishing fourth on the day.