'Immense sadness': Dakar Rally rocked by rider's tragic death

Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves (C) in 2017 celebrating in the podium after arriving in second place in the 2015 Dakar Rally motorbike category in Buenos Aires. The 40-year-old Goncalves has died after a crash in the Dakar Rally on January 12, 2020, in Saudi Arabia, becoming the gruelling motorsport marathon's 25th fatality. (Photo by ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images)

Australian rider Toby Price will mourn the death of fellow Dakar Rally competitor Paulo Goncalves who died after crashing during the seventh stage of the race in Saudi Arabia.

The 40-year-old Goncalves , taking part in his 13th Dakar Rally since making his debut in 2006, fell about 276km into the special stage from the capital Riyadh to Wadi Al Dawasir on Sunday.

"The organisers received an alert at 10:08 and dispatched a medical helicopter that reached the biker at 10:16 and found him unconscious after going into cardiac arrest," organisers said in a statement.

"Following resuscitation efforts in situ, the competitor was taken by helicopter to Layla Hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead.

"The entire Dakar caravan would like to extend its sincere condolences to his friends and family."

Price, the defending champion, finished an hour and 20 minutes behind the stage winner but organisers said he stopped to try to help Goncalves and will have his position recalculated.

Stage eight cancelled

The organisers have decided after consultation with the races' motorcycle fraternity to cancel stage eight of the race on Monday "in order to give the riders time to mourn their friend."

Goncalves was the first competitor to die in the gruelling endurance event since Polish motorcycle rider Michal Hernik in Argentina in 2015.

A runner-up in 2015 and four-time top 10 finisher of the Dakar, Goncalves suffered mechanical problems on Friday and had change his bike's engine to stay in the race, dropping to 46th overall after the sixth stage.

"The target now is to do my best, because the result at the end...there is no way to get a good result. Instead I'll try to do good stages every day possible and that's what I'm looking for," Goncalves said then.

The experienced rider had competed in the Dakar on three continents, from its origins in Africa to South America and this year's debut in the Middle East.

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

Sunday's 546km stage, the longest of the event, was won by Spaniard Joan Barreda with American Ricky Brabec extending his overall lead in the category.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, a two-times Dakar winner driving a Mini buggy, took his third stage win of the event in the cars category to extend his lead over Toyota's reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar to 10 minutes.

Mini have won six of the seven stages this year.