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Price recounts ‘longest eight minutes’ aiding Goncalves

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Co-author: Sergio Lillo
Jan 13, 2020, 1:05 PM

KTM rider Toby Price says the eight minutes he spent waiting for the medical helicopter to arrive at the scene of Paulo Goncalves’ fatal Dakar Rally crash were the “longest of my life".

Price was the first to attend Hero rider Goncalves’ after he fell off his bike on Sunday’s seventh stage between Riyadh and Wadi Al Dawasir and suffered a cardiac arrest.

Dakar organiser ASO received an alert about Goncalves’ crash at 10:08am local time and a medical helicopter was soon dispatched, landing at the site eight minutes later at 10:16am.

The Portuguese rider was found to be unconscious when the medical team arrived and he was subsequently airlifted to Layla hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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Since then, ASO has cancelled Stage 8 for bikes and quads, while Goncalves’ team Hero has withdrawn from the remainder of the event.

“[The crash] was on a big fast plateau, big fast piste,” Price explained. “Yeah, it was pretty much wide open, full gas, and just pretty much right at the last-minute the alarm on the GPS system went off and as I looked up, I saw a bike laying out in the distance. 

“It’s never good because the area we were was at quite a high speed. And then to arrive and see Paulo on the ground - at first I didn’t quite know who it was, I just knew it was a rider down and then I quickly realised it was Paulo. 

“I knew it was quite serious, he was in quite a bad way. We tried to do everything we could, trying to get a response from him. We called the helicopters and informed the race control as soon as possible. 

“I tried to get him onto his side because it was a lot of issues with him on his back the way he was. Then we continued to try and call for help, we had response [that] the helicopter was on the way. 

“We just tried to do everything we could and check all the vitals. Unfortunately there was no response [from him], and we were just trying to hope and wish the helicopter would get there very very quickly.

“The longest eight minutes of my life for sure - it felt like an hour. The guys, they responded very quickly, and Luc [Alphand, former Dakar champion working for French TV] was there, was also helping us and trying to comfort me. 

“And [Stefan] Svitko, he arrived a couple of minutes after I did. So it was a little group of us trying to do as much we could and unfortunately it's not the best outcome of the situation - it’s a hard day for the motorcycling world, losing a great friend and a great competitor.”

Price said it gives him “comfort” that he compromised his own rally to assist Goncalves, and that he has taken his focus off the results in the wake of the Portuguese rider’s fatal incident.

The defending champion sits fourth in the overall classifications heading into Stage 9 on Tuesday, 28 minutes down on standings leader Ricky Brabec (Honda).

“I’m just happy we stayed there, as long as we could, that’s kind of what gives me comfort,” he said.

“I remember him [Goncalves] stopping for me in 2017 when I broke my leg in Dakar, and was just a bit of the right thing to do for him and we helped him getting into the helicopter and took me another 15-20 odd minutes to re-gather myself and get back on the bike. 

“At least I knew I was there and tried to comfort him as much as possible, and thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends and everyone in Portugal. They lost a good warrior, that’s for sure. 

“At the end of the day, I’ll do this any day of the week. For sure it’s an important race, but at the end of the day it’s only just a race. We are all human and we are all here to look after each other. 

“We just need to try and regroup now and get to the finish line ourselves, do our best result this weekend for Paulo. 

“But for sure the result at the moment is not so good, I guess I’m not too concerned on this. I would rather have Paulo here in the bivouac with us any day of the week.”

#8 Hero Motosports Team Rally: Paulo Goncalves

#8 Hero Motosports Team Rally: Paulo Goncalves

Photo by: A.S.O.

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About this article

Series Dakar
Event Dakar
Drivers Paulo Goncalves , Toby Price
Teams Red Bull KTM Factory Racing , Hero
Author Rachit Thukral