“Paulo Gonçalves died trying to achieve the dream of winning one of the toughest and most dangerous rally events in the world, in which he was always a dignified representative of Portugal, reaching as high as second place in 2015”, reads a note posted on the official website of the president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at the weekend.
The head of state also offered his “most heartfelt condolences” to the driver’s family.
Gonçalves, 40, died on 12 January following a crash in the seventh stage of the Dakar rally in Saudi Arabia, organisers announced.
According to information from the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the alert was issued at 10.08am local time (7.08am. in Lisbon).
A helicopter was immediately sent that reached Gonçalves at 10.16 am. Gonçalves was found to be unconscious and in cardiorespiratory arrest.
“ After several attempts at resuscitation at the scene, the rider was taken by helicopter to Layla hospital, where his death was confirmed,” the ASO release reads.
Gonçalves was participating in his 13th Dakar since his debut in 2006.
In 2015 he came second overall behind Spain’s Marc Coma - his best ever result. He had already been world cross-country rallies champion, in 2013.
He was ranked 46th in the motorcycle competition at the start of this stage.