Dakar Rally a paradise for Bunbury’s Andrew Eaton

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Bunbury's Andrew Eaton was in the thick of the action while working as a photogrpaher for the Dakar Press Team at the Dakar Rally.
Camera IconBunbury's Andrew Eaton was in the thick of the action while working as a photogrpaher for the Dakar Press Team at the Dakar Rally. Credit: Maik Dobiey/ Dakar Press Team

Bunbury’s Andrew Eaton is readjusting to life at home after two weeks he described as paradise for photographers while covering the Dakar Rally.

“If you wanted a landscape you could walk 12km off into the desert to find a spot all by yourself whereas at events here you are told where to go,” he said.

“The other thing was that people were a lot more open to having their photos taken.

“That’s all before you even get to the action — it was the action of the cars, the action of the competitors, the action of other photographers diving out of the way and of the supporters.”

During the two weeks of racing Mr Eaton was continually able to get access to some of the best competitors and he was in awe of the passion it took to take part in the race.

“There were guys that would be sitting next to their bikes shattered because they’ve broken down,” he said.

“And that feeling spills on to us as well and I ended up hugging guys in the middle of the desert because their races are over.

“Even though they haven’t hurt themselves they were absolute devastated just because they’ve been let down by mechanical failure.”

He said he learnt along the way how to get the best photos.

“I’d do my little risk assessments so I was never going to get squashed,” he said.

“When you are behind the sand dunes you could hear them coming but couldn’t see them so I would be doing a little shuffle from side to side working out which way I should be running.

“Once they came over the crest they start decelerating and going left or right to go down the dune, then I was chasing after them — doing the opposite of what your instincts might be — because you need to get close with a wide-angle lens.”

He said the experience was surreal and blew his expectations out of the water.

“I had been watching it on TV for so many years and then all of a sudden I was there — now when I look back at some of the footage it all seems a little bit more boring,” he said.

“Everywhere I went people were friendly — it was a continuously happy atmosphere and the whole place was humming with 5000 people.

“It exceeded all my expectations because of all the people I was able to meet.”

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