15th of Jan, 2014. 

I am up early to drop my luggage and camping kit at truck which will take it to the next Bivouac in Antofagasta. 

I have all my kit i will need with me including a rations bag containing biscuits, canned mushrooms, small apple juice, muesli bars and some other stuff which is pretty much been the same formula since day one. 

Sometimes you eat some stuff, the canned mushrooms have not been touched, they look pretty average.  The Dakar guys always supply loads of water which warm or cold have been consumed by the bucket load. 

There are 6 travelling helicopters with the Dakar race, medical, TV, press and military.  The press one is saved for other picture agencies, not Getty Images so I will be in the military one. 

My first ride ever in a helicopter and I am greeted by some ASO (the company who owns the race) staff plus some other people who will be travelling with us.  I feel safer than I thought, maybe its because its military and normally things with these guys are checked over and over again. 

Buckled up, we rise into the 7am morning light leaving a plume of dust for the surrounding tents and mechanics working on their vehicles before their race day begins. 

Our first stop is the closest photo point as the ASO gentlemen want to see the first of the bikes so we land and this 20min journey would have been at least 2.5 hours by 4x4 as its out in the desert. 

We get the bikes, then the cars and my favourite, one truck.  It was overcast for most of the bikes but the cars make to us as the clouds clear so we get blue skies and cars crashing over dunes which makes some great photos.  Our ASO helicopter man tells us it time to head off and for this early in the morning, to have some great photos in the bag, is a good feeling. 

Our next stop is a fuel point as the choppers don’t have a massive distance range.  Here is also the time point that all vehicles will come through. 

I had seen the leader bikes and cars and now I see them again, I realise that now why guys in the press chopper get so many images, they can always be head of the race as well as going back to get any incidents.  Helicopter is the best way to shoot a race like this. 

While the chopper puts in fuel, I shoot the leaders coming in and the leader car driven by Nani Roma has a flat tyre.  He checks in and speeds off, I get a frame of the tyre but its not very good. 

He then drives about a kilometre away and stops, so checking the chopper won't be going anytime soon, I run after him. 

I catch up as he and co-pilot replace the tyre with local police making sure that other traffic see them.  This is something we in the travelling 4x4s would rarely see. 

So in a few hours of my first ride, I am dreaming of how I can buy a helicopter, wonder if I put it on my Christmas list, one will show up under my tree next December! 

Our next stop is for another check point. 

This place is a flat dry land and the wind means every corner of you, clothing and kit is covered in dust.  We beat the leader cars again and I shoot some of the locals getting photos with the pilots as they stop for a break. 

We are about to head off to another photo point when the radio answered by the military men, tell us there is an emergency.  We all wait for more info and we hear that Carlos Sainz, El Matador, one of the stars of the race as he was a world champion in Rally before entering the Dakar has been injured. 

Another helicopter is closer and picks him up then will be dropped here where our chopper will take him for medical treatment.  I get some very news worthy images of a shaken but not seriously injured Carlos as he is helped to our chopper. 

One ASO employee and I are left here in the sand blasting wind while this and another emergency are handled by our military men.  The day has been pretty action packed but now it fizzles out. 

3 hours later, caked in dust and not a good photo to show for it, we get radio signal, Chopper Oscar is on is way back to pick its prize asset.......the ASO employee and the lowly photographer (thats me).  It arrives and at after 6pm so we head back to the new bivouac in Antofagasta. 

Normally the helicopter photographers arrive fairly early to meet deadlines, I am later than the 4x4 guys.  By the time I get to the media centre and its super slow internet connection its 8:30pm. 

Happy with my images but tired, hungry and filthy I find my luggage and camping kit, set up my tent and edit the news worthy images of Carlos and Nani, who is losing his grip on the lead and tyre stop I got him working on cost him more lost time.  I get some much needed food, have meeting for tomorrows days trip, do the remaining days  edit and finish yesterdays edit, clean up in the freezing cold water of the camp site and the clock hits 2:45am.

Alarm set for 4:30am. 

Maybe at that exact moment the alarm was set, I had doubts but this is still one of the best experiences of my working career.  This is the Dakar!

If you have any questions about today or any of the previous days you have read, please feel free to ask away on @AllSportSnapper on twitter.

 

View Dean's coverage of the Dakar Rally 2014 on Getty Images

  • Inside the chopper
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  • IQUIQE, CHILE - JANUARY 15: (#251) Ignacio Casale of Chile for Yamaha Ignacio Casale, (#256) Sergio Lafuente of Uruguay for Yamaha Uruguay Rally Team, (#252) Rafal Sonik of Poland for Yamaha Sonik Team and (#51) Francisco Arredondo of Guatemala on a KTM compete in stage 10 on the way to Antofagasta during Day 11 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 15, 2014 in Iquique, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • Ready for takeoff
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  • IQUIQE, CHILE - JANUARY 15: (#506) Andrey Karginov (in frame), Andrey Mokeev and Igor Devyatkin of Russia for Kamaz Master stops between timed sections and has a break in stage 10 on the way to Antofagasta during Day 11 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 15, 2014 in Iquique, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • IQUIQE, CHILE - JANUARY 15: (#301) Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar and Lucas Cruz of Spain for MINI compete in stage 10 on the way to Antofagasta during Day 11 of the 2014 Dakar Rally on January 15, 2014 in Iquique, Chile. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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  • Dean Mouhtaropoulos is a Sports Photographer for Getty Images. Follow him on Twitter at @AllSportSnapper
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Editors Note: The 2014 Dakar Rally will be the 35th running of the event and the sixth successive year that the event is held in South America. The event starts in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina on January 5 and finishes in Valparaíso, Chile on January 18 after thirteen stages of competition. To find out more visit the official Dakar Rally 2014 website.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos is a Sports Photographer for Getty Images. Follow him on Twitter at @AllSportSnapper

About Deal Mouhtaropoulos
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Mouhtaropoulos' love for photography began when his godfather bought him a camera for his 12th birthday.

"My journey to become a photographer had started and led me to the Big Smoke as I always knew London would provide a good platform to start my career in the photography business.
Working full time in various non-photo related roles and shooting for magazines and newspapers on weekends, it was then that I discovered Getty Images. When visiting the Getty Gallery, which was in Chelsea at the time, and looking at all those amazing pictures I had an epiphany and knew this was the company I wanted to work for.

I started hounding Getty’s Human Resources department to give me a role, any role, in the company. A few months and hundreds of phone calls later a role came up doing coffees, spreadsheets and filing.
Thanks to my boss, who saw some potential in me, I became a Field Editor for Getty which is like the modern version of working in the Dark Room. I got to work with the best photographers around the world at events like the MTV Awards, Cannes Film Festival, both Football and Rugby World Cups, the Olympics, Champions League football, World Championships in Swimming, Diving, Hockey, Athletics and so on.

This has taught me more than I could ever imagine and after 7 years of absorbing information and applying it to my own photography, I earned the opportunity to become a staff photographer for Getty.
10 years in London came to an end at the start of 2012 and I am now based in the Netherlands covering sports and news in the Benelux, France and Germany. My knowledge of photography has progressed but my passion is as strong as it was when I picked up my first roll of Fuji film as a 12 year old."

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