9th of Jan, 2014

5:45 a.m., on the road again.

This time, things are a bit different. Instead of the one race seat and harness, the normal 4x4 rear seat has been re-installed so two people can fit in the back. This is more comfortable but the problem is they have left the roll cage so to sit in the chair you have to put one leg between the bars, without shoes, or you will not fit.

I am just happy to be back shooting the race. We also have two drivers for safety. 

Our four and a half hour journey takes us into some stunning desert areas surrounded by mountain ranges - a few mountains are even snow capped.  We leave the main road and put the co-ordinates in which takes us six kilometres off road. A bumpy ride as expected until we arrive at the photo point. 

Just as we arrive, an official Dakar track car is leaving. Being polite, I wave as they drive off. The car stops and we are told that this section of the track is no longer being used. If we had arrived two minutes later,  we would have missed these people and waited all day for no vehicles at all. 

We quickly select another photo point within 30 km and head off in the other direction.  Well over five hours after we left Chilecito, we arrive at our second designated photo point.  The desert heat is unavoidable and the bottled water we have is warm but we (Filipe from Agency EFE and I) are ready to shoot the bikes, quads, cars and trucks. However,  no bikes show up! 

Four hours are spent waiting in a spot I like, getting the sounds of mosquitoes and wind confused with the sounds of engines. Hot and very bothered; Filipe and I decide that this area must have been cancelled as well. 

Dejected and very disappointed, I start to pack up my kit. Then, the sound of a screaming engine influences my mood significantly. Quickly unpacking, getting the remote ready, I run back to the spot in the desert that has my shoe prints sunken in the sand.  It’s the cars!  We found out later that half the bike course got cancelled. Again, miscommunication or no communication. Either way it has been a long wait in the heat of the day. 

I begin shooting the cars as they come through; the sound of the screaming engines is now more a roar. 

A few of the faster trucks have overtaken some cars and what a sight and sound!  Racing trucks in the desert, not something you see every day! 

For the next two hours we shoot. Then when the light starts to fade, we get back in the cramped 4x4 for our three hour ride to Tucuman.

Leaving the desert, we enter the surrounding mountains then exit to low plains before entering other mountains which are a little different. This is now jungle territory and we have moved from the dry to the wet climate all within the space of a few hours.

In the lush green forest, the Dakar fans show up again in force.  There is over one and a half hours of waving to people as we drive along these winding roads and it is great entertainment. It makes the journey fun, start to finish.

This time when we arrived in San Miguel de Tucuman, we don’t even bother to question our information for the day. We just want to send our images, set up for the night and eat. Finishing at 2am, with my car confirmed for tomorrow, I am tired but pleased I came away with some nice images.

The alarm is set once again for 5.30am.

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

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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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