FIVE OAKS, England (Reuters) - Drivers donned their suits and climbed into their cockpits at the weekend for a 12-hour endurance race with a difference: they weren't driving rallying cars, but lawnmowers.

The annual race in Five Oaks, a hamlet in West Sussex, England, started at 8 p.m. on Saturday and saw 51 three-driver teams take to the 1.4 km (0.87 mile) circuit, with the winning team completing 363 laps.

The lawnmowers can reach speeds approaching 50 mph but a week of rain preceding the race left the surface of the dirt track soft and difficult to navigate.

"This track will find out any weak points on a mower," previous winner Andy Rostron told Reuters. For the fifth year in a row the race was won by the Northerners Kick Grass team.

 

Lawnmower racing came out of a meeting of motor-sport fans in a pub in 1973 who wanted to create an inexpensive class of racing. Teams are forbidden from accepting sponsorship or modifying engines.

(Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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