The Dakar Rally is known as one of the toughest and most dangerous off-road races in the world, and the 2014 version of the event has certainly lived up to the billing thus far.
Not only is the Dakar Rally a test of endurance, it also offers a much tougher terrain than other rallies. In addition, the event features four different types of vehicles—motorbikes, cars, quads and trucks—which are all true off-road vehicles rather than modified vehicles.
The race, which is open to both amateur and professional drivers, lasts for a total of 14 days including the rest day breaking up the competition. From former greats like founder Thierry Sabine to one of the most dominant drivers since 2005 in Cyril Despres, the rally has seen several notable drivers brave the Dakar courses.
In its sixth year since moving from Europe and Africa to South America, the race has already seen over 200 competitors drop out of the competition. After 431 participants started the 35th running of the Dakar Rally, just 229 remained by the mandatory rest day.
The rally passes through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. After starting on Jan. 5 in Rosario, Argentina, the journey will end on Jan. 18 in Valparaiso, Chile. The entire route, which amasses over 5,200 miles, is one of the most treacherous rally courses in the world.
The race doesn't come without its dangers. The rally is commonly referred to as the "world's most dangerous race" for its rough terrains and sweltering conditions. The racers must battle through water, sand dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks. During the fifth stage, the temperatures rose to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to news.com.au.
According to CNN, 27 competitors have died and 50 total have perished—including spectators, support crew and media—in the rally since its inception in 1978. In its history, the death of Sabine in a helicopter crash during the 1986 rally is still one of the more memorable tragedies to take place in the race.
This year's race has already claimed the lives of three individuals—one motorbike competitor and two news members—through the first seven stages.
With the race still taking place and entering its eighth stage on Monday, Jan. 13, here are the most important moments to take place in the 2014 Dakar Rally.
Information courtesy of Dakar Rally's official website.