British motor sport officials and marshals have long been hailed as the best in the world so, perhaps, it's no surprise that so many of them will be performing essential roles at next weekend's maiden Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the 2009 FIA F1 World Championship.
More than 125 skilled volunteers from the UK are already present at the sparkling new Yas Marina circuit, helping to oversee the smooth running of the pre-Grand Prix test for GP2 cars. On Tuesday, the advanced party will be joined by a further 225 volunteers in the final build-up to the landmark race.
The experienced 350-strong UK contingent will be performing many key official roles throughout the organisation of the F1 event an occasion that will also celebrate further British success as both Jenson Button and Brawn GP will be competing for the first time since capturing Drivers' and Constructors' World Championship titles.
Many of the travelling volunteers will be positioned on strategic trackside posts situated all around the floodlit 5.5km circuit acting as track marshals.
Others will be manning trackside fire and rescue vehicles as well as 'snatch' vehicles to remove stricken race cars. The circuit's all-important Race Control nerve-centre will also benefit from well-proven UK specialists in essential duties including radio communications and close circuit television operations.
"The huge number of dedicated UK volunteers present in Abu Dhabi further underlines the esteem held for the British officials when it comes to the running of major motor sports event such as this," said Ian Watson, business development manager at the British Automobile Racing Club - the renowned Thruxton-based organisation that is supervising the operation and has previously been involved in offering support and help to many international venues.
"Our highly proficient team from the UK will be in action alongside their local counterparts organised by the Automobile & Touring Club of the U.A.E to ensure all aspects of the event run smoothly. While BARC are not involved in any formal training programme, we're confident our officials will pass on some of their enormous experience to the local officials during what promises to be a spectacular occasion at the impressive Yas Marina venue."
Although the UK volunteers are not actually being paid for their services beyond costs for their travel, accommodation and subsistence, more than 1000 applied to make the historic trip to the Middle East.
"We contacted all those we have on our database generated from running hundreds of events in Britain and were overwhelmed by the enormous response," Watson added. "Inevitably some are disappointed not to be in Abu Dhabi, but it is a great opportunity for us to be able to reward some of those who regularly give up their weekends to ensure the safe and successful organisation of so many motor sport activities staged throughout the country.
“Their dedication not only safeguards the future of our national sport but is also recognised right around the world - that's why they are so valued in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere internationally."