GABORONE, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Multitudes of motor sport enthusiasts braved the cold winter weather of Botswana for the start of the 2018 Toyota Kalahari 1000km Desert Race on Saturday morning.
The gruelling 2-day annual event which is round three of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) brings about a feast of off-road racing with factory models like Toyota, Ford, Nissan and BMW as well as specially designed vehicles and motorcycle racing.
The overall winners of the race in their respective categories automatically qualifies for the next Dakar Rally.
This year's event is taking place near the mining town of Jwaneng, some 165km west of Gaborone, capital of Botswana.
Botswana Tourism has in recent years partnered with the race organizers to make it one of the biggest off road racing events in Africa attracting tourists from all over the continent and abroad.
Thousands of tourists spend the weekend at the race also attending multiple other activities including a music festival and camping.
The first day of the race sees competitors completing a 500km route that takes them through rivers, sand dunes, pans and ditches in the gruelling Kalahari Desert.
They rest in Jwaneng overnight and complete the remaining 500km route on Sunday.
Car competitors complete a 50 kilometre time trial on Friday and two laps of the eastern loop of 250km on Saturday.
Motorcycle crews also tackle the western loop on Saturday after a 35km time trial on Friday.
Sunday sees a reversal with cars completing the western loop and motorcycles the eastern loop to complete the 1000km.
The organizers keep the tradition of the route as one of the very challenging by altering it every now and then to make it more challenging to the drivers while also keeping it spectator friendly with several spectator points alongside.
It has become a custom that not all competitors will finish the race as it puts their machines through the hardest of tests with some falling off on the first day and others on the second day.
Navigation is also crucial in the race as it is very easy to get lost and lose important time trying to get back on the route.
By Saturday afternoon several cars and motorcycles had already retired from the race owing to different mechanical faults while a factory Ford vehicle had burned to ashes.
Luckily the driver and his navigator escaped unhurt.
The race continues on Sunday.