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After 15 days and 5500 gruelling miles, 124 motorcycle riders, 26 quad drivers, and 89 car crews and 60 truck crews rolled into Santiago’s Palacio de la Moneda to celebrate the finish of the Dakar rally 2013. That’s just 67 per cent of the vehicles that started the race 14 long stages ago…

Most of the finishers were grizzly, hardened Dakar champions with titles to defend - Stéphane Peterhansel took his fifth victory in a car, Cyril Despres notched his fifth win in the motorcycle category, and Marcos Patronelli won for the second time in the quad category. There was one first-time winner though - Eduard Nikolaev bagged the truck title.

And Peterhansel made winning the 35th Dakar in his Mini look pretty easy - he led from the second stage, taking the victory 42m 22s ahead of Giniel de Villiers’ Toyota Hilux and 1hr 28s over teammate Leonid Novitskiy.

The two-wheel drivers also surprised everyone with seven stage wins (three for Nasser Al-Attiyah in a Red Bull Motorsport buggy, two for Robby Gordon in his Hummer, and one each for Carlos Sainz and Guerlain Chicherit in their RBM buggy and SMG Gache Buggy. And while the four-wheel drive cars, including three Minis and the Chinese Great Wall, took the top six places, the buggies were faster on the course but plagued with reliability issues.

The truck category also had a few surprises - Russian manufacturer, Kamaz, managed to win first, second, and third at the hands of drivers Eduard Nikolaev, Ayrat Mardeev and Andrey Karginov. Alas, no dash-cam footage…

And you may also have been following the inspirational Race2Recovery team, who we memorably featured on Top Gear. Corporal Philip ‘Barney’ Gillespie also become the first amputee ever to complete the Dakar Rally. Captain Tony Harris, who launched the Race2Recovery project and also appeared on the show, said: “Tom and I [did] not finish ourselves, but this project has always been about the team, not the individual.

“Three of our members weren’t able to follow the whole journey with us after being injured in a road traffic accident earlier on the event. We’re very grateful that they have all made a good recovery but our thoughts have always been with those others involved in the accident who were less fortunate and our sympathy remains with their families.”

Click on for more pictures from the race…

Photos: DPPI/Maindru/Monster Energy

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