Despite the new 450cc capacity limit and running all-new bikes (the KTM 450 Rally) Marc Coma and Cyril Despres gave KTM a one, two, marking the Austrian manufacturer’s 10th consecutive rally win. But the Dakar isn’t just about KTM picking on everyone else, it’s really about you and I getting new desktop wallpapers. The rally produces some of the most stunning images of motorcycle racing ever captured. Here’s the 10 best photos to come out of this year’s race.
10. With a front wheel buried nearly to its axle and the back wheels causing a mini avalanche, this photo really captures how challenging the Dakar’s terrain is for riders. (Marcello Maragni/Red Bull)
9. This one really conveys the power, speed and disruption a motorcycle creates as it passes across a landscape. (Aprilia)
8. The light filtering down through the canyon really makes this one. Lopez is perfectly lit by it as he slides around this corner in the tight cleft between two vertical red rock walls. (Aprilia)
7. Do you know anywhere on earth that looks like this? Not where you can ride a motorcycle across at high speed you don’t. (Marcello Maragni/Red Bull)
6. Know that split second where you know you can no longer save it? This is it. Hands off the handlebars, try to ditch the bike so you don’t land on its hard metal and plastic. Hope for the best. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)
5. Look how the single track left by Lopez leads perfectly into his trajectory as he crests this dune. One half natural beauty shot, one half motorcycle action. (Aprilia)
4. This one’s all about the perfect shadow, but the contrast between the fully-lit rider and the dark recesses of the dunes conveys a sense of mystery too. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
3. Aerial shot? Check. Featureless desert? Check. Sunset? Check. Sense of speed? Check. In a lot of ways, this is the perfect Dakar shot that every photographer is trying for with every frame. It’s made better by the lack of previous tracks, Lopez is riding into the unknown. The shadows created by the low sun and the sand ripples help too. (Aprilia)
2. Most photography coming out of the Dakar suffers from the sterility that modern DSLRs impose on their photographs. This one actually manages some texture and warmth while capturing the environment the rider is a part of. Looks like Grant could have shot it using one of his vintage Leica lenses. (Marcello Maragni/Red Bull)
1. This photo just totally sums up the Dakar for us. A lone rider facing alien conditions. The shadows, colors, texture and the touch of action from the dirt spray on the dune crest just make this photo all the more perfect. Check out the contrast between the smooth dune surfaces and the ripples walls beneath the crests. Don’t you want to sell everything you own just so you can go there and do this just once? (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)
All of these photos are available in high-res in this gallery.