New frontiers – The Dakar Rally is one of motorsport's most grueling tests. The 9,000-kilometer marathon goes to Peru for the first time this year, in addition to blazing across Argentina and Chile.
Troubled waters – The Dakar tests racers both physically and mentally as they take on a variety of challenging terrains. This picture shows Yamaha rider David Barrot falling into a river in Peru during the 11th stage in 2012.
Cars... – Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah guided his Volkswagen over the line first to claim victory in the cars division in the 2011 race. The versatile 41-year-old has also claimed gold medals in shooting disciplines at the 2002 and 2010 Asian Games. Mechanical problems forced Al-Attiyah to retire his Hummer from this year's race during the ninth stage.
Motorbikes... – Marc Coma is no stranger to success in the Dakar. The Spaniard's 2011 motorbike victory, riding for KTM, was his third in the rally, adding to triumphs in 2006 and 2009.
Quadbikes... – Argentina's Alejandro Patronelli is pictured here en route to victory in the quadbike division in 2011. Patronelli finished the 2010 Dakar as runner-up, with his younger brother Marcos taking glory.
... and Trucks – Russia's Vladimir Chagin has been dubbed the "Tsar of the Dakar" for his dominance of the truck category. The 41-year-old's victory in 2011 was his seventh.
Organizing it all – Etienne Lavigne is one of the men charged with deciding the route for the Dakar.The race director is confident this year's route will prove an exciting challenge and has not ruled out to extending the rally to include more countries in the future.
Environmental concerns – Raul Montenegro is an ecologist and founder of the Foundation for Environment Protection (FUNAM). He claims the necessary environmental impact assessments have not been conducted prior to some locations hosting stages of the Dakar.
Trouble on the roads – Montenegro and his team also claimed to have taken photos of race competitors breaking local traffic laws while traveling between rally stages in Argentina. Pictures such as this one have been sent out to racers in the 2012 event as examples of how not to drive.
The beginning – Vehicles gather in Buenos Aires ahead of the 2012 Dakar. In total, 465 cars, trucks, motorbikes and quadbikes began this year's race.