2020 DAKAR RALLY – CRAIG KEYWORTH #114
JAN 12, 2020
STAGE 6: Riyadh – Wadi Al Dawasir
Liaison 119km, Special 546km
Position: 87th o/a, 92nd stage
It is much sadness we start this blog with a farewell to Paulo Goncalves who lost his life during this stage of the rally. Motorcycle racing of all forms brings with it danger and risk and the riders take on the sport understanding and accepting this. Nonetheless when tragedy does strike it makes the loss no less keenly felt, especially among the Dakar competitors who always form a close bond.
Paulo had earlier in this rally put in two exceptional days’ riding. The first on stage three when he broke his engine and had to wait over six hours for his crew to find him, replace the engine, then ride – mostly in the dark – to the finish of the stage, over seven hours behind the leaders, completing probably something like 14 hours on the course including time on the liaisons. That was a huge ride in itself, but the following stage Paulo came back immensely strong to finish the day in fourth place. A super-human ride, probably one of the rides of this year’s rally.
Sadly, today he suffered a high-speed crash, and succumbed to the injuries arising therefrom. He has been a fine champion and respected competitor and friend to the paddock; we mourn his passing and extend sincerest sympathies and condolences to his family, friends and his team.
Craig writes, 17:14 GMT:
Another big day in the bag. Obviously some pretty sad news today regarding the death of Paulo Goncalves. Irrespective of level, everyone is really just playing on toys, and to lose your life, devastate a family and leave behind good friends is the last thing anyone wants, or thinks about when pushing on.
Today’s stage was fast, with long plateaus interspersed with rocks about the size of various cars buried up to their windows. There were sand plateaus though that were laid down by whoever does the gardening in the desert purely to get an engine singing. And sing it did.
I pushed from the gate today, but then found Mick Extance with his rear tyre completely obliterated – it looked like the bead had failed and unleashed mayhem, removing the chain, rear brake hose and anything else it touched. Mick was fine but the wholeness was jammed in good. Obviously I stopped to assist. It took us a good 25 minutes to cut the tyre and moose off and remount the rear wheel so he could continue on his rim. He was 90km into a 547km stage. He’s still out there now as I write this.
I did pass a bike parked up a little later, and later still I heard Mick had got hold of a tyre… I hope he gets in. Today has a ‘closed door’ cut off though, so he’ll be pushed to do – he must pass the last check before the cutoff time otherwise they’ll pull him out.
More bad news is that other fellow Brit, Simon Hewitt has blown his engine, and was also helicoptered out.
A more brief report today given the news, so all to say is that it has just been announced that tomorrow’s stage is cancelled for bikes as a mark or respect to Goncalves.