Cross-Country Rallies Paolo Gonรงalves
FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion
FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Born on 5 February 1979 in Esponsende, Portugal
A TITLE DECIDED IN THE VERY LAST KILOMETRES OF THE SEASON’S LAST RALLY In 1991, he started competing in Motocross where he remained until 2002. He then moved into Enduro until 2005 before taking part in his first Rally Raid in 2006. From 2009 onwards, “Speedy Gonçalves” as he is known started to attract attention, winning his first special in 2011 and taking a place on the podium in 2012. When Paulo Gonçalves took the start of the last special of the Rallye Oilibya Maroc, the last of the season, he had a lead of only 14 seconds over the discipline’s benchmark Marc Coma, reigning champion and six times FIM Cross Country Rallies World Champion. Gonçalves needed nerves of steel to withstand the pressure in this last sprint, especially when he spent a good while going round in circles looking for a concealed waypoint 40 km from the finish. But the rider from Portugal hung in there and was able to offer the World Championship title to Honda, officially back in Cross-Country Rallies after a 20 year absence, and to his team Speedbrain. For Paolo, the title is gladly shared with his team mate Joan Barreda
who supported him throughout the season and without whom he would not have been able to make this dream come true. This is an unusual World Championship title: Paulo, who was on the podium of every race – except at the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina, where he came fourth –, was riding a Speedbrain machine. He came second in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, second in Qatar, and second in Sardinia, just a few seconds from victory on every occasion. Then he won the Rallye dos Sertoes in Brazil that counts for double points and thrust him into the Championship lead. For the Rallye Oilibya Maroc, team Speedbrain moved under the Japanese flag of Honda and it was aboard the new CRF 450 Rally that Paulo Gonçalves clinched his World Championship title.
© C.Barniss 65