This year the Dakar Rally moved from its spiritual home in Africa to South America. That’s a good thing, as it resulted in more varied terrain, better racing and, most importantly, absolutely amazing photos.

The Dakar Rally is a 15-day, 5,950-mile off-road endurance race for cars, trucks, motorcycles and quads. This year’s route began and ended in Buenos Aires, passing through the Andes and up Chile’s west coast before circling back via Córdoba.

Featured here is Giniel De Villiers’ Volkswagen Race Touareg 2, which won the car race, and a variety of trucks. That class was won by Firdaus Kabirov for Team Kamaz of Russia.

The Race Toureg 2 is a steel space frame, two-door carbon fiber-bodied prototype that shares very little with the production SUV. Power comes for a 260 HP, 443 Lb-Ft 2.5-liter, five-cylinder supercharged Diesel. That may not sound that big, but the overall vehicle weighs just 3,940 Lbs. It has to survive some of the most extreme conditions on earth over the 15-day race, facing temperatures that range from freezing to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, huge impacts, submersion in water and mud as well as powdery sand. This was the Toureg 2’s first race.

For awesome photos of the motorcycles that took part in the 2009 Dakar Rally visit Hell For Leather.

Photography Credit: Red Bull Photofiles