21 Amazing Moments From The World's Most Hardcore Desert Race

dakar rally 2013

Photo: Dakar 2013

Most car races last a few hours. The 24 Hours of Le Mans takes a whole day. Then there’s the Dakar, the off-road endurance race open to cars, trucks, and motorcycles.Originally known as the Paris-Dakar Rally, the event began in 1977 as a race through Africa and Europe. In 2009, the race was moved to South America because of security concerns.

Even in the Western Hemisphere, it is a dangerous proposition: At least four people died during last year’s edition, only one of them a participant.

This year’s 5,000-mile route goes down the Pacific coast, into the Peruvian desert, over the Andes Mountains into Argentina, and then back to the coast before concluding in Santiago, Chile.

About halfway through the race, there has been plenty of excitement so far, all of it captured in these 21 remarkable photos.

All of the motorcyclists competing in this year's Dakar gather for a group photo.

Models pose in front of a Monster car before the rally begins.

Ignacio Flores Seminario is representing Yamaha's racing team on an ATV.

A rider for Husqvarna gets some air.

Leonic Novitskiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov, with nine Dakar rallies between them, make up the X-Raid team. They drive a MINI ALL4.

Guerlain Chicherit and Jean-Pierre Garcin step out of their vehicle.

Driving this truck are Gerard de Rooy and Tom Colsoul.

They take a look damage done to the truck after day two.

After the second day of racing, David Casteu climbs off his bike.

Racers and observers congregate as the sun rises on day three of the rally.

Two bikers race down a dune to the shore.

The top of the dune provides a great view of the Pacific.

Chilean Francisco Lopez hopes to complete this year's rally after an accident forced him to drop out partly through the race in 2012.

Carlos Sainz, racing for the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team, won the first stage of the 2013 Dakar.

On day three, he was filmed by an overhead helicopter.

Ronan Chabot and Gilles Pillot finished in 12th place in their category in 2012, and are aiming higher this time around.

Two onlookers get some sun near the parked truck driven by Tomas Vratny and Milan Holan of the Czech Republic.

Pal Anders Ullevalseter is a Norwegian rally racing motorcycle rider. He is using a 450cc bike in his 11th Dakar.

De Rooy and Colsoul's truck races around a hairpin turn, after a motocross rider.

Russians Ayrat Mardeev, Aydar Belyaev, and Anton Mirniy literally take off on their way to winning the Dakar's fourth stage.

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