Dakar 2020: Hero MotoSports Team Rally Withdraws From Remainder Of Dakar Rally
Hero MotoSports Team Rally announced that it would withdraw from the remainder of the 2020 Dakar Rally that is currently running in Saudi Arabia after its lead rider, Paulo Goncalves, died following a crash in yesterday’s seventh stage of the event.
A team spokesperson was quoted by Motorsport.com saying that the team collectively ‘felt the need to take some space to grieve our friend and teammate.’
Goncalves had suffered a crash roughly halfway through yesterday’s stage that ran for 546km from the Saudi capital of Riyadh to Wadi Al-Dawasir. A cardiac arrest following the crash left him unconscious and the rescue team was unable to resuscitate the 40-year-old Portugese who was then airlifted to Layla Hospital. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
India’s own CS Santosh was the only rider left for the team who was eligible for an overall ranking as Joaquim Rodrigues had to withdraw from the opening stage due to technical difficulties. After that, Sebastian Buhler (who was a late replacement for the injured Oriol Mena) was unable to finish the sixth stage.
Both Rodrigues and Buhler had been riding in the remainder of the event under the Dakar Experience category, which allowed them to be classified in a stage – and more importantly support their teammates – but not be eligible for an overall ranking.
Santosh was ranked 35th overall after stage seven and was aiming to improve enough to finish in the top 30 for the first time since his Dakar Rally debut in 2015.
The 2015 Dakar Rally was also the event at which Goncalves – who made his debut in the 2006 edition – scored his best ever finish of second overall while riding for the factory Honda team.
Hero’s withdrawal leaves Sherco-TVS Racing as the only remaining Indian entry in the Dakar Rally. Hero had scored a top ten finish in the last three Dakar Rally editions since it made its debut in 2017, which was when Santosh signed to compete with them.