The waiting was too much, and agitation was giving way to annoyance for Volkswagen Motorsport. Out of everybody, driver Romain Dumas looked the most relaxed - strapped tightly into the svelte I.D. R electric racer, staring impassively into the distance. Every now and then he shut his eyes, mentally clipping one of the 156 apexes that lay ahead. Miss one and he might as well miss them all. Miss one and the last nine months meant nothing - he had one shot.
Finally, a deeply harassed-looking official sought and found the right blue jacket. It was time.
Charging umbilicals withdrawn, access hatch battened-down, tyre warmers whipped off, Dumas rolled the car away. Flicking the regulatory-required siren on to warn spectators, deer, elk and even bears of his impending arrival, he stamped on the gas and drew broken black lines through the tunnel of observers.