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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 21:36 GMT
Race in the desert

Spaniard Carlos Sainz and co-driver Andreas Schulz battle through the Mauritanian desert with motorcyclists Marek Dabrowski (top), Charlie Rauseo (middle) and Carlo Alberto Mercandelli in attendance

The Dakar Rally runs from Europe through west Africa over some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet

Andy Caldecott, pictured racing through the desert in Morocco on 3 January

The race is dangerous and Andy Caldecott was killed on Monday, six days after this picture was taken, when he crashed on the ninth stage

Germany's Jutta Kleinschmidt and Italian co-driver Fabrizia Pons fly over a dune in Mauritania during stage six of the Dakar Rally

Huge Saharan sand dunes form formidable obstacles, but Jutta Kleinschmidt shows no signs of backing off as she flies over a dune in Mauritania

Hans Stacey and co-drivers Charly Gotlib and Bernard der Kinderen pictured in the Mauritanian desert in their MAN truck during stage eight on Saturday

In addition to cars and motorbikes the field also contains massive trucks - this one is being driven by Hans Stacey

Here two competitors wind their way through the dust during the seventh stage, which took place in Mauritania on Friday

Despite being in the middle of the desert the road is far from straight and concentration must be total

Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret take their Mitsubishi Pajero over a dune with a helicopter in attendance

Helicopters belonging to TV and the race organisers follow the drivers through the sand-scape

South African driver Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Tina Thorner throw up a dust trail in their Volkswagen Touareg during the sixth stage between Morocco and Mauritania

South African driver Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Tina Thorner throw up a dust trail in their Volkswagen Touareg

Stephane Peterhansel's Mitsubishi's passes through a village between Atar and Nouakchott in Mauritania on the eighth stage

But the Dakar is not just about wide expanses of desert - Stephane Peterhansel blasts through a village in Mauritania

French rider Cyril Despres belts along on his KTM during the sixth stage between Tan Tan in Morocco and Zouerat in Mauritania on Thursday

When the sand is packed high speeds can be reached and keeping the bike on the uneven ground can prove a problem

An unidentified motorcyclist throws up a spray of sand as he tackles a dune

The race tackles some near-impassable sand dunes, with motorbikes often struggling to make it through the desert

Uruguayan rider Laurent Lazard steers his KTM over a dune during the seventh stage in Mauritania on Friday.

And even if the competitors make it to the top there is plenty of desert still to be covered

Jutta Kleinschmidt's VW in Mauritania

Jutta Kleinschmidt braves the rocky terrain of Mauritania on the ninth stage between Nouakchott and Kiffa

Giniel de Villiers' VW on the 12th stage between Bamako in Mali and Labe in Guniea

But often dust is the problem, as anyone following Giniel de Villiers' VW would have found on the 12th stage between Mali and Guinea

Stephane Peterhansel passes a baobab tree on the 10th stage between Mauritania and Mali

Stephane Peterhansel led for a long time before dashing his hopes in a collision with a tree

Carlos Sainz on the 13th stage between Labe in Guinea and Tambacounda in Senegal

Double world rally champion Carlos Sainz nears the end of his first Dakar Rally as he enters Senegal on Friday



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