Time’s ticked away almost unnoticed at the Autodrome since morning warm-up. Hitherto sleepy garages along the pitlane, save the whir of wheel change guns here and there, have erupted with activity. Raging bulls, prancing horses and three-pointed stars start to poke their noses out of the garages up and down the pit lane.

Each is immediately swamped by photographers, journalists, TV crews, and Canon-sporting race enthusiasts. Fully-suited drivers exit soon after, pulling on gloves and helmets before being taking their seats. And soon, they’re heading for the grid. As the cars ‘cruise’ past down the pitlane, the rest of us head in the opposite direction. Through a gap in the pit wall and with yellow lanyards on display, we’re out onto the circuit.

Thirty minutes before race time, final preparations are still going on. Engineers brief their drivers and mechanics make final engine checks, all while an audience marvels not too far away. There are a lot of people circulating.

While the Dunlop girls pose gracefully under their umbrellas, other Autodrome visitors seek solace from the sun under the main grandstands, water bottles in-hand.

Then the first siren sounds. Twenty minutes to go before show time >>>

Shots by Pete West

James Gent first started as a freelance motorsport writer in the UK, before an urge to be paid a monthly wage saw him move to Dubai in late 2011. A keen motoring enthusiast, he hopes that one day his garage will hold a Lamborghini Countach, as well as a WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

James Gent

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