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3Red Bull showcases France's 'Gardians of Dakar'

For motorsports fans in the US, the winter is often a wasteland of interest, leaving us to look forward to warmer weather and the return of racing. However, there's a lighthouse that shines each year during the cold doldrums in the form of the Dakar Rally. Often broadcast in the wee hours of the morning, it gives the DVR-savvy a reprieve to watch motorcycles and trucks blasting through the desert while the snow falls outside at home.

10Buick Encore takes a hit of Mokka to tackle Dakar

There are many vehicles we'd consider taking racing. Even on a cross-country rally as punishing as the Dakar. But a Buick Encore? That's not one that would enter our motorsports-based consciousness. Yet it's basically what General Motors is entering in the South American rally raid this year, and you're looking at it.

6Peugeot details 2008 DKR with 340-hp diesel [w/video]

It would be all too easy to write off Peugeot Sport these days. The French automaker's competition division, once run by FIA president Jean Todt (before he was head of Ferrari), hasn't competed in Formula One in 14 years, in the World Rally Championship in nearly a decade, and shut down its Le Mans Prototype program – the only one to really challenge Audi in the modern era – two years ago.

4Peugeot 2008 DKR aiming for Dakar, makes detour to Beijing

Peugeot is no stranger to dirt-oriented motorsports, but with the 2008 DKR, the French automaker is striking out in a different direction than the rally stages of Europe. Instead, it has placed aim squarely on the notorious Dakar Rally, arguably one of the most grueling, demanding and dangerous (and longest) races on the planet.

1Peugeot returning to Dakar next year with 2008 DKR [w/video]

Racing fans may have been disappointed when Peugeot shut down its Le Mans racing program, but don't think that the Lion marque has hung up its driving gloves for good. It's just refocusing itself. Instead of committing itself and its resources to a major circuit-bound racing series, Peugeot has been tackling one-off, off-road events. It took the record at Pikes Peak with Sebastien Loeb and is targeting the same at Goodwood. It recently released the new 208 T16 for privateer rally teams. And now

7Watch Jay Leno bounce around with Dakar winner Roma in his Mini All4Racing

With Jay Leno off the Tonight Show, he has all the time in the world to focus on his passion for cars and can even travel a little. Leno teamed up with two-time Dakar Rally winner Nani Roma to jump and slide a Mini Countryman All4 racing truck around the dunes in Death Valley, CA.

12Mini locks out the podium at Dakar Rally

Motor racing is often overcome by dominant forces. In Formula One these days, it's all about Red Bull. Le Mans is absolutely dominated by Audi. Citroën devastated the World Rally Championship for years. And the Dakar Rally is no exception to that particular rule, either.

1Dakar Rally claims life of rider Eric Palante

The infamous Dakar Rally has claimed the life of another participant. 50-year-old Eric Palante of Belgium was killed while traversing the fifth stage of the cross-country race via motorcycle. Organizers grew concerned earlier Friday after he hadn't finished the leg, which most racers had completed on Thursday. They found his body on the course.

3Porsche revisits the 911's dirty side with rally history film

It might not be a coincidence that there are rumors of Porsche revealing a safari version of the 911 at April's Beijing Motor Show, just as the Dakar Rally is about to begin. Adding fuel to the dusty desert fire is a just-released official video of Jeff Zwart driving the Porsche 953 that Jacky Ickx drove to victory in the 1984 edition of the race.

4Renaultsport prepares Dacia Duster to tackle Dakar

If you've ever seen a Dacia up close, it'd probably strike you as one of the least likely vehicles to take racing. The Romanian-made vehicles (also sold as Renault models in certain markets) typically drive around a hundred horsepower to the front wheels through a five-speed gearbox and offer little more. Nor should they, really, because they're budget-oriented forms of transportation, but neither should they be taken racing. Or so you might assume, but apparently nobody has told that to the eng

AddBiodiesel Toyota Land Cruiser 200 ready for Dakar 2014

A Toyota subsidiary is preparing to enter a Toyota Land Cruiser for a very long off-road ride while emitting 60 percent less carbon dioxide than its regular diesel competitors. Toyota Auto Body Co. has enrolled a team into the 2014 Dakar Rally that will race a biodiesel-fueled Land Cruiser 200 with fuel made from used cooking oil.

6EVR Proto VX-101 to challenge Dakar 2014

Eric Vigouroux and BJ Baldwin are two of the top drivers in off-road racing. Vigouroux has won almost every rally raid he's entered in the last four years, taking the FIA World Cup Championship in the 2WD category in 2010 and beating all the factory teams to win the Rally of Morocco last year. BJ Baldwin, meanwhile, has won four off-road racing championships in the past six years. Both have competed in Dakar in GM machinery before, and for next year's event, they're teaming up to contest the fam

15Ford shows off V8-powered Ranger headed to Dakar Rally

Avert your eyes now if you're jealous that the global version of the Ford Ranger is not offered in the US. Ford's midsize pickup is being tuned up to take on the 2014 Dakar Rally, and the result is a truck that is probably even cooler than any F-150 SVT Raptor we've ever seen in the States. Ford is actually building two versions of the truck for Dakar, which will run from January 5 through January 18, covering more than 5,000 miles from Argentina to Chile.

Adde0 getting new PP01 electric supercar ready for Pikes Peak challenge

After sending the all-electric eO beast to the Dakar Rally – where it became the first electric vehicle to finish that event – Latvia's OSCar is readying a new racer for the Pikes Pike International Hill Climb in Colorado next month.

5Mini celebrates racing success with John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 Dakar Winner 2013

French drivers Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret drove a Mini Countryman to a class win at this year's Dakar Rally, and to commemorate their win, Mini has introduced a limited-volume car that will only be sold in France. The Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 Dakar Winner 2013 might be a mouthful to say, but it's a fitting tribute to Peterhansel's eleventh Dakar win as this Countryman is painted to look like the rally car and only 11 will be sold in the Peterhansel's home cou

16French motorcyclist Thomas Bourgin killed at Dakar

The 2013 Dakar Rally has claimed another life. Organizers have confirmed 25-year-old motorcycle rider Thomas Bourgin died after colliding with an oncoming Chilean police vehicle while in transit to the start of a stage.

2Two die in Peru when taxi collides with Dakar Rally support vehicle

Dakar Rally organizers report a support vehicle and two taxis were involved in an accident on January 9. The support vehicle collided head-on with a taxi carrying six people, while the second taxi, carrying four people, overturned several times in an attempt to avoid the accident. Seven people were injured and are now being treated in a hospital in Tacna, Peru, including three occupants of the support vehicle. Tragically, the driver and one passenger in the first taxi died of injuries sustained

18Dakar flub gets Robby Gordon a cursin'

Robby Gordon is off to a rough start in the 2013 Dakar Rally Raid. First, the racer broke reverse trying to free his rig from a sand dune. That news sent him into a fit of rage captured on an in-cabin camera. We'll just say the language isn't safe for work or for younger ears, but for everyone else it's well worth checking out below. Shortly thereafter, events turned even worse when Gordon cleared a dune only to fall victim to deep, soft sand at the bottom. When his Hummer hit the loose terrain,

22Meet the Smart Fortwo that should be competing in the 2013 Dakar Rally [w/video]

When it comes to specialty applications of the Smart Fortwo, "off-road motorsports" may seem about as likely as "amphibious assault vehicle." Yet a team has come up with just that (the former, not the latter), creating a rally-ready runabout dubbed the Smart Dakar.

5Mini Countryman by X-Raid set for Dakar

Mini is gearing up to head back to Dakar. The company campaigned five ALL4 racecars last year, and took the overall victory with driver Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret. Second place also fell to Mini, and the remaining three cars soaked up spots in the top ten for an impressive finish. This year, Mini is headed back with specially-prepared Countryman models in competition as Peterhansel attempts to defend his crown from a new crop of rivals. The team will also make us

6Renault shows DCross Concept in Brazil

The São Paulo Motor Show continues to heat up and bring us interesting new vehicle unveilings. Next year, we may have to tough it out and trek down to Brazil for the 28th edition of the auto show. The most recent development from São Paulo is the Renault DCross concept. In what appears to be a gussied-up Dacia Duster, the DCross gets a bright green and matte black paint scheme, a raised ride height, roof racks and a spare tire atop the concept. If off-roading is your thing, the DCr

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