In 2012 the Dakar Rally presented riders with a Pan-American test of nearly 6,000 miles.
The full route took riders from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific
Over the course of 14 days of racing, the riders skirted the Andes Mountain range and crossed the driest place in the world, the Atacama, and into the incredibly beautiful dunes of Peru.
In the photo above, Italian rider Paolo Ceci crosses the shifting sands of Peru’s Nazca desert. Dakar leads riders into the harshest conditions on earth and the result, any result, is a monumental accomplishment for the men and machines.
“Today we won and it’s simply fantastic,” said winner Cyril Depres at the close of the race. “This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I’ve ever raced in. It was difficult physically, but even more psychologically. Challenging yourself every morning and fighting on the course takes its toll on your mind. It’s not like a 42-kilometre marathon; here, you have to earn your place every morning. All victories are beautiful, but this one is special because it came down to the wire and was decided at the last minute. This was an unimaginable scenario, with the leaders separated by mere seconds. I’ve done 90 or 85 rallies throughout my life, and this one was the one where I had to fight the hardest.”