The agony and the ecstasy: Otherworldly photos from the spectacular Dakar rally
The 2019 Dakar Rally is now over, and as well as a new crop of extraordinary stories about extraordinary human beings, we can now sit back and enjoy some thoroughly spectacular imagery from one of the most grueling and beautiful motorsport events on Earth.
The biggest story by far this year was Australian Toby Price, 2018 FIM World Rally Champion and 2016 Dakar champion, who started the two-week Dakar rally with a broken scaphoid bone in his right wrist. Price somehow managed to endure searing pain in his throttle wrist for two weeks, as well as the harsh demands the rally places on any that dare to start it, and ended up winning the motorcycle category, sealing KTM's 18th straight win in this iconic race.
But this was also a significant year for the event, with 17 women marking the highest level of female participation ever. The Dakar camp was able to celebrate the first ever female to finish without assistance, as 40-year-old Anastasiya Nifontova of Russia brought her Husqvarna 450 home in 62nd place overall with no crew to assist. Seasoned campaigner Laia Sanz of Spain had another impressive finish in her 9th Dakar rally, achieving 11th place overall.
The car category was won, as many expected, by Nasser Al-Attiyah and teammate Matthieu Baumel, marking Toyota's first Dakar win and Al-Attiyah's third. The pair ran a flawless two weeks, and won comfortably after last year's champion Carlos Sainz sustained damage and lost an unrecoverable amount of time on Day 3.
The truck division was all Russian and all Kamaz. Eduard Nikolaev, Evgenii Iakolvlev and Vladimir Rybakov convincingly took first place, followed by Dmitry Sotnikov, Dmitrii Nikitin and Ilnur Mustafin in second, 25 minutes off the pace – and it was another hour and 10 minutes back from there to the first Iveco finisher, Gerard de Rooy.
Argentinian Nicolas Cavigliasso was the big favorite in the quad bike division after the previous two winners (Sergey Karyakin and Ignacio Casale) switched over to the comparatively safer side-by-side category. Cavigliasso more than lived up to expectations, dominating the quad category and putting together a time nearly two hours clear of Jeremias Gonzales Ferioli in second place.
And in the fast-expanding Side by Side category, Can Am took the first four places, with Chileans Francisco Lopez Contardo and Alvaro Juan Leon Quintanilla taking a comfortable hour-and-two-minute margin over the finish line.
The terrain this year was much less diverse than last year. It was punishing sand dunes most of the way, the gritty sand only giving way to rocky desert mountains and the occasional bit of damp beach as the course looped around southern Peru.
But the imagery coming out of the Dakar was as extraordinary as ever – click on any image to jump into the gallery and enjoy our favorite photos from the most grueling and spectacular event in the global motorsports calendar. Congratulations to all finishers!