Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves killed after Dakar crash

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Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves of Hero MotoSports Team Rally has passed away from a fall in Stage 7 of the 2020 Dakar Rally.

Goncalves suffered mechanical problems on Friday, having to change his bike's engine to stay in the race, and dropped to 46th overall after the sixth stage. At 10:16 a.m. local time, he crashed and a medical helicopter was dispatched.

"Following resuscitation efforts, (he) was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead".

He was the 25th Dakar fatality since the inaugural edition of the gruelling motorsport marathon in 1979, and the first since Polish rider Michal Hernik was killed in 2015 in Argentina.

The Portuguese rider was competing with Indian motorcycle manufacturer Hero in his 13th-ever Dakar Rally. Rodrigues broke his back in a Dakar crash two years ago but returned after extensive surgery and was 27th after stage six.

Mini have now won six of the seven stages.

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Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in an official statement said Goncalves had died "attempting to accomplish the dream of winning one of the most risky and toughest rallies in the world".

Castera said a tribute would be held for the fallen competitor on Sunday evening.

Goncalves crashed out on the fifth stage in Peru previous year.

Carlos Sainz continues to lead the rally's vehicle class by 10 seconds over Nasser Al-Attiyah after claiming his third stage win of this year's event.

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.

Popularly known as "Speedy", the 40-year old Goncalves was a Dakar regular since 2006.