After taking a year off thanks to security concerns, the Dakar Rally is back, and well underway, just not where you would traditionally expect the iconic off-road race to be. The 2009 edition is the 30th running of the famous long distance, endurance race that has historically run from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, but this year finds itself on an entirely different continent, racing through Argentina and Chile.
Beginning and ending in Buenos Aires, this year’s race officially got underway back on January 3rd, with 540 teams setting out to cover the 5,951 mile course. Broken down into 14 stages, ten in Argentina and four in Chile, the teams will endure long days in the hot desert sun pushing themselves and their machines to the limits. The final 140 mile stage is scheduled to take place on Saturday, bringing the epic race to a close for another year. Whether or not it returns to its roots in Europe and Africa in 2010 remains to be seen.
Check out this amazing gallery of photos from the race. They give a little insight into danger and intensity of a long distance rally like this one, in which racers use motorcycles, quad runners, trucks, and cars to cross the rugged and demanding terrain.