The ultimate test of man and machine, the Dakar Rally, returned to South America in January. After a five-year absence Peru was back on the map, hosting three stages of the iconic event. As well as these fresh challenges, there were plenty of the potential pitfalls to be found across Bolivia and Argentina, which have now become a legendary part of the Dakar experience. The 10,000 kilometre route from Lima to Córdoba, via La Paz, covered some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. Making life even more uncomfortable for competitors and their vehicles were the scorching South American summer temperatures and nosebleed-inducing altitudes.
A competition of extremes and an orienteering race, the Dakar brings together the leading rally raid riders and drivers, as well as amateur competitors who come to fulfil their dream, experience an adventure and meet the biggest challenge of their life on a bike, quad, in a car or truck. These images capture some of that challenging yet beautiful terrain and turn it into an art form. Images: Eric Vargiolu, François Flamand, Marcelo Maragni / DPPI / Red Bull Content Pool.