Be prepared: it's Mudmaster 2018

LRO editor Neil Watterson marshals at the UK’s best 4x4 navigation event

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Okay, Be Prepared is more of a Scouting mantra than a military one, but it applies equally to military life. And, for once, I am prepared – well, relatively, anyway.

I’m at GEMM 4x4 Mudmaster, an off-road navigation/driving competition based in Glasgow, run jointly by the British Army Motorsports Association and the Scottish Land Rover Owners Club. Having competed for the past four years, winning in 2015, I’ve decided to marshal this year and assist my regular crew-mate Phil Griffiths in creating and running the final phase of the competition.

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You see, Mudmaster is a multi-venue event, with the competition taking place on private land, linked by road sections. The aim is to get round the entire route without picking up penalties for driving or navigation errors, and it’s the lowest score wins.

But, as with all the best-laid plans, things don’t always go as intended, and I was already making the 300 mile journey north before I found out that we wouldn’t be just marshalling, but we’d be course opener. Fortunately, I’d packed my OS Landranger maps of the area; unfortunately I hadn’t plotted the route. Cue a hurried plotting session over a meal in the hotel restaurant after setting out our phase…

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We’re just getting ready for the drivers’ briefing when we hear there has been an accident on the M8 – and an amendment to the route is issued, taking competitors off a junction early to avoid it. We’ve waited around for the briefing and, as it has overrun, we’re now short on time – just 15 minutes before car 1, last year’s winners Gordon and Lisa McCheyne, leave. We’d best get going.

Rather than being in our normal vehicle for this event, the LRO 90, I’ve bought our 2012 TDCi Defender 110 Utility. I’ve bunged our set of BFGoodrich Mud Terrain KM3 tyres on it and loaded the back with all the gear we may need, but hopefully won’t, from recovery kit to fire extinguishers – and we have a key to open the gates on the forestry land.

We head off and immediately find that the M8 doesn’t exist on my maps – so we pull off a junction early, just in case. Then, by mistake, we rejoin the motorway, and the back of the queue. D’oh!

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Fortunately, it has reopened, and we’re back on track and we get down to the first forestry track and are pleased to find the gate open, and Bobby and Ross manning the time control at the end. They’ll be course closers after the final vehicle has been through.

Turning south, we aim for the next set of woodland and open the gates before dropping into Worm Law. This has been set up as an orienteering section and with 61 vehicles coming through – 37 civilians and 24 military (plus 13 MAN trucks doing a slightly different route) – we stop to inform walkers and cyclists what is going on. All are cheery and thank us for letting them know.

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We’re only a few minutes head of car 1 now, so we do a quick sweep of the route, checking for any gates or obstructions that may hinder progress and make our way to the exit.

The great thing about these events are the people involved in running it. Off-roading legend Brian Hartley and his crew are marshalling this phase and when we reach the end, we find Stuart Bankier and friends running the time control. Until recently, Stuart organised the Berwick Classic Rally that Phil and I compete in, so we had a quick catch-up. Then it’s onto the first trials of the day, before a mandatory lunch stop – giving us a bit of time to catch a breath and allowing me to take some photos.

But time waits for no-one, so we soon head off and leapfrog the lunch stop and snack at the next section – four more trials sections at regular site Ballencrieff Mains, just north of Bathgate. Dean Pugh is acting as official and shadowing the event in his L322 Range Rover, and, egged on by some of the marshals, drives the Range Rover into a very boggy section and gets stuck. Fortunately, help is on hand to extract the stricken vehicle before the competitors arrive, so no-one will ever know about it.

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We clear a speed check well within the limit – speed guns are deployed on the event to ensure drivers are adhering to high standards – and open the next section of track before reaching a driving test in a farmyard. We’ve a few minutes to spare, so it would be rude not to try it.

Now, I’m not bad reading maps, but I can’t seem to get the hang of test diagrams and we nearly ‘wrong test’ it, but Phil retraces our line and we clear it well within the allowed time. Then Gordon arrives in car 1, with other vehicles following behind. We’d better get going again.

The Carron Valley forest is legendary on Mudmaster events. Not because of the stunning scenery, but because so many crews get it wrong. We check-in and head on through. We’ve got GPS mapping running, in case I need it – we need to be on the right track at all times – but the crews don’t have that luxury; they’re going old-skool with paper maps.

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Exiting the forest we don’t spot a close marshal, but there’s no marshal point indicated, so perhaps there shouldn’t be one – anyway, we continue on, down the stunning Campsie Fell and into Lennoxtown, where the final forest section waits. We open the gates and head for the final control, allowing the marshals to head off and grab a brew while we wait in case anyone arrives before they return.

We’re done for the day, but it’s getting dark now – they may need extra marshals to sweep Carron Valley, so we return to the start and wait for the crews to finish arriving before deciding to head in. Just as we’re saddling up, we spot a Wolf 110 almost get to the control, turn around then disappear off. We head off to investigate and see it turn off along another track.

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It has stopped, but in the gloom it no longer looks like a Defender – the shape is wrong, so we investigate. The crew had realised they had made a mistake and tried to turn around on a flat piece of land. Unfortunately, it wasn’t flat but a big hole and the Land Rover was leaning at 45 degrees and cross-axled. The crew are understandably quite relieved to see us – we attach a rope to the Jate ring and tow them onto the flat, guiding them to the marshals at the start of the section.

We allow them a few minutes and when Bobby and Ross arrive, we head off to check the lower section for stragglers, while they take the higher road, which the crews should be on. But as we reach the first junction we catch up with the crew again, looking a bit lost. We point out the way they need to go, and we go the other, meeting a set of headlights coming towards us. Another lost crew. As time is rolling on, we get them to follow us to the exit, where they can rejoin the route on tarmac.

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Phil and I hang around for a bit and spot headlights coming down the hill, but it’s not competitors – it is George from GEMM 4x4 in his Discovery pick-up – the second closing car; slightly worrying as we know there is at least one crew still in the forest.

We wait for fifteen minutes then leave – there are enough marshals to sweep the forest for lost souls, and we drive along Campsie Fell again, but this time we’re treated to a fantastic vista of the twinkling lights of Glasgow at night.

The temperature is dropping and we get speed-checked again by military police in Lennoxtown (we’re way under the limit again, thankfully). They haven’t seen sixteen of the crews, with only one having arrived in the past 15 minutes – we decide to head in and drive the route, just in case – and immediately find four Land Rovers – three military and one civilian – heading the wrong way, hopelessly lost. We turn them around and lead them out and to the final control of the day. We’re done too, so call it a day – we’ve still got our phase to run tomorrow.

The Land Rovers are covered with a hard frost when we head out to them and we’re thankful for heated windscreens. Once warmed up, we go to the training area just south of Cambuslang, where we’ll be doing our utmost to confuse the crews. They’ve started with a couple of orienteering sections and are making their way down to us via more trials.

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We check our phase – called Clockwiser – works, then I head up the hill to make sure any gates are open. The muddy track tests the capabilities of the BFGs, and traction control kicks in to help ascend the soft climb. It’s a long drive to the top of the hill, but it’s clean. There’s no way we could have sent 60+ vehicles up it, but they should be fine descending it, though I do put out some caution boards to slow the crews down. I’ve just put the final board out when car 1 arrives and our phase is live.

The aim of Clockwiser is to have a bit of fun. No maps, no difficult navigation – you just arrive at a board and the number on it tells you which direction to go next. So, if it’s 12, you go straight on. A 3 means 90 degrees to the right, a 9 is 90 degrees to the left, etc. But the crews have to note the numbers down and don’t finish until they have added them up and given us the total. We’ve given them a very generous bogie time to beat – well below a 10mph average speed – but some of the terrain isn’t the smoothest.

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The first few vehicles have it toughest, as they should. When we designed the 2-mile route we purposefully didn’t drive in straight lines between the boards, so the crews would have nothing to follow. And with some of the grass being above bonnet height, some of the route isn’t clear – and they have to make a leap of faith that they are going the right way.

We know it’s plotted correctly as we’ve used a compass to measure the angles – and each hour on a clock is 30 degrees – so when you arrive at a point and see a 7, you have to turn 150 degrees left, focus on a point and drive straight to it. Everyone got the route right, but not everyone managed it in time, or added the numbers up correctly (it was 222, if you wanted to know).

With the last vehicle through, it was a case of clearing the site and heading back to the 154 (Scottish) Regiment RLC base for the group photo and prizes.

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It’s good to see many of the civilian crews returning and there were quite a few familiar faces in the military – it must be one of the most enjoyable military excercises going. On top of that, eight crews made the short trip across the Irish Sea from Northern Ireland to compete – and they’re going to try to encourage crews from the south to come next year.

Winners this year were Kevin Fulton and Alan Morrison in a 90 pick-up, with just one penalty point, narrowly beating Chris Moir and Andy Couper on furthest cleanest, and Gordon and Lisa McCheyne finished third.

It’ll be back next autumn and we’ve a couple more fresh ideas ready to throw into the mix – see you there.

 Winners Kevin Fulton and Alan Morrison

Winners Kevin Fulton and Alan Morrison

Confessions of a course-closing-car navigator

LRO editor Neil navs on the Devils Own Rally

 Matt Warren/Andy Pullan, Ford Escort

Matt Warren/Andy Pullan, Ford Escort

‘Ey-up, Neil,’ said Phil Griffiths, who I often navigate for in motorsport, ‘how do you fancy doing course-closing on the Devils Own Rally in Cumbria?’

Run by Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club for vehicles of a specification pre-1986 and with a route of 170 miles, eight tests and loads of regularity sections, it’s a test of both driver and navigator. Sounds fun. And as we’re just a course car, we don’t need to be in an eligible vehicle – though we each own one.

After literally moments of thought, we concluded the LRO Freelander would be the ideal closing vehicle. Fully roll-caged, with bucket seats, harnesses, massive sump guard, Cibie Super Oscar driving lamps and BFGoodrich Urban Terrain tyres, the otherwise-standard 1.8-litre Land Rover also has a drop-down rear window, making collecting marker boards a doddle. We’d be able to press on when needed and may be able to assist others.

 David Ruddock/Nick Cooper, Vauxhall Viva

David Ruddock/Nick Cooper, Vauxhall Viva

If you’re not into the scene, road rallies are about as grass-roots as you can get with motorsport. All you need is an eligible vehicle, a navigator and off you go. You don’t need to make any mods, though more competitive drivers will often fit a sump guard and a roll cage, just in case. The only thing that is now becoming an issue is the cost of the vehicles on this sort of event – pre-1986 cars are gradually increasing in value and many owners simply won’t want to risk their pride and joy.

But for those who do, there’s plenty to go at – and the vehicles competing on this year’s Devils Own Rally range from 1930s Bentleys to 1980s hot hatches.

Being course-closure means that we’re the vehicle the crews don’t want to see. We start off just behind them and as long as all of the vehicles get through the time controls (TCs) we can continue after them. But if one goes wrong, we need to wait a certain amount of time for them to find the correct route and for this event, it’s 15 minutes – any later and they’re Over Time Limit (OTL) and have fallen out of the rally, though they can rejoin further along.

 Rob & Amy Henchoz, Volvo PV544

Rob & Amy Henchoz, Volvo PV544

So, we watch the vehicles through the first test on a farmyard half a mile from the start, then head off. We’re the second closing car, picking up the boards; there’s another in front of us collecting the timing clocks.

All competitors make it through the first two controls, but we’ve lost one by the third, so we wait for OTL and close the control. Now it becomes difficult to regain time. Although it’s not a race – the vehicles have to average set speeds below 30mph – as we have to stop and collect the boards, we can easily fall behind time. At least we have marked-up maps showing our route, and where the controls are; the crews have to plot their routes from information given.

 Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall, 1937 Bentley Derby

Elliott Dale/Charlotte Ryall, 1937 Bentley Derby

We arrive at the next test at OTL, so Phil and I drive it, blasting the Freelander round the cones in a quarry. We’d be nowhere near the times of the top crews, but it builds the adrenaline nicely.

Some of the vehicles are falling behind and by the time we arrive at Test 6, we’ve managed to get ahead of five, but as we’re not collecting the clocks, we hold back – so they all get to drive it. Elliott Dale in a Bentley Derby is running very late, having bust his rear diff on a previous test – he’s rebuilt it by the side of the road and has rejoined the rally.

 LRO 1.8 Freelander gets a quick break

LRO 1.8 Freelander gets a quick break

A quick coffee break is followed by a run that takes in Winster Ford. When we arrive the recovery crew are stowing their ropes – with the water level about 350mm deep quite a few of the competitors have needed their services but the Freelander shrugs it off, though the brakes do suddenly dissipate all of the heat that has built up.

Some tricky navigation lies ahead and we find a competitor by the side of the road, struggling to plot. We point out that we’re the closing car and he elects to follow us, getting a time at the next control, then heads off in the wrong direction…

 Matthew Smith/Richard Clark, 1966 Morris Cooper S

Matthew Smith/Richard Clark, 1966 Morris Cooper S

A maze of lanes follow and I’m calling the junctions thick and fast while Phil concentrates on the road.

‘CROSSROADS,’ I yell, and Phil stamps on the brakes and we skid to a stop just short of the junction, before the Give Way line. Phew.

Another test in some woodlands sees us catch up with the tail-enders, then it’s on to the Lakeland Motor Museum for sandwiches and a short break. It also allows us time to jettison some of the boards that are rapidly filling the load area.

 Ian Crammond/Matthew Vokes, 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

Ian Crammond/Matthew Vokes, 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

It’s getting dark now and the lights are coming into their own. We get to the start of a regularity only to find we’ve lost another car, so have to wait. And Roger Powley in his Porsche 911 has managed to get bellied on a greenlane, off the rally route, in Grizedale Forest – could we help?

We head in and have a look. We assess it and decide it needs to be winched, so leave it for the other closing car to remedy, while we become clock car and board collector. Now the pressure is really on.

We make our way through the empty Grizedale Forest at a sedate speed (probably) and exit – a long transport section beckons and as Phil drives, I work out our timings – we should get to the TC in time, then be slightly ahead.

 Roger & Leigh Powley, Porsche 911

Roger & Leigh Powley, Porsche 911

We close it down, and start on the next phase of the event. We’re about to close a passage control, but get passed by a competitor – how did we overtake them? We’ll have to wait until OTL now.

Nine passage controls in the space of three miles means we’re not even getting out of 2nd gear, but we have to do the entire route, just in case. Direction boards through farmyards need to be unscrewed and stowed, and we’re starting to fall way behind – the marshals will wait for us to reach them, unless they need to move onto another control – so we need to be prompt.

Then fog starts to descend, reducing visibility. Phil is a native of Cumbria, but doesn’t know these roads well enough to risk going quickly, but fortunately it clears as we drop down off the moors.

 Les Andrew/Gary Evans, 1977 MGB GT

Les Andrew/Gary Evans, 1977 MGB GT

The air is damp and the Freelander’s screen is misting up – the persistent light rain is clinging to everything and the hardy marshals are very pleased to hear the magical words: ‘closing car’. They can get home and into the warm; we’ve still got 90 minutes to go.

We enter a corner on a farm track quickly, only to find a cow in our path. We patiently wait for it to move, then gingerly continue, opening it up again once we’re over a cattle grid. Despite all its reliability issues, the 1.8 Freelander can take a lot of stick and we redline it in first, second and third to get back up to speed on the mud track.

 Sue Shoosmith/Sandy Campbell, 1962 Sunbeam Rapier

Sue Shoosmith/Sandy Campbell, 1962 Sunbeam Rapier

The route takes us into another forest and we’re asked to assist the crew of a VW Golf GTi who have fallen off the track into a ditch. We don’t really have the time, but we have a go – and because we’re working fast, I make a mistake, catching my thumb between the Freelander’s tow pin and hitch. I attach rope and Phil attempts a recovery, while I find a plaster to stop the claret leaking from my digit.

We can’t get it out – the Freelander’s clutch won’t take it and we’re just pulling it along the ditch. We’ll have to leave it for someone else. With hindsight, we should have built a ramp for it – or maybe the club should have asked for volunteers to assist from the local 4x4 Response group before the event.

 Thomas & Roger Bricknell, 1983 VW Golf GTi

Thomas & Roger Bricknell, 1983 VW Golf GTi

We close the section and are on the home run, and as I start to relax, I make a navigational error, missing the final test of the event. We retrace our steps and find it – but I’m so tired I can’t decipher the test diagram, so we decide to visit the marshals and close it, rather than driving it.

I look at the clock. We’re just over 20 minutes behind schedule – not too bad, really, and it’s a relief to hand over the score cards and clocks to the organisers and grab something to eat. We’ve struggled even with marked-up maps, no wonder some of the crews found it very difficult.

It’s been a great event – challenging navigation and testing driving. Apart from the first test, we haven’t seen any of the competition and very few cars en-route, so we’ve no idea how anyone has done. It’s been exhausting, but great fun.

Now, I wonder whether they’ll invite us back next year?

 Overall winners Guy Woodcock & Ali Cooper, Ford Escort 2000

Overall winners Guy Woodcock & Ali Cooper, Ford Escort 2000

Digger goes under the hammer

Unique Series IIA AirDrive Harrier up for auction

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Everyone loves a Tonka toy – and now you can have a real-life one of your very own – ideal for those jobs where a normal Land Rover just won’t do, like clearing ditches to help with drainage, or digging footings for a barn to store your burgeoning Land Rover collection.

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The AirDrive Harrier is a backhoe fitted to a Series IIA 109-inch chassis, and was the company’s demonstrator. It was rebuilt by Series Land Rover expert Rob Maude and we ran a full feature about the rebuild in our August 2017 issue. It is in full working order, complete with the backhoe and comes with the concrete breaker and loads of provenance.

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It’s up for auction at Cheffins Vintage sale at Machinery Saleground, Sutton, Ely, Cambs, CB6 2QT, on Saturday 20 October – find out more on the Cheffins website.

Self-driving Sport sent to Coventry

Autonomous Range Rover tackles tricky thoroughfare

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There are probably places most people would prefer to be than on the Coventry Ring Road, but its complex layout makes it the ideal place for real-world testing a self-driving vehicle. The Range Rover Sport has completed the first ever self-driving lap of it, following significant testing on closed road tracks. The trial is part of the £20m government-funded project UK Autodrive.

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Chosen for its performance and existing features, such as adaptive cruise control, the Sport has been modified to include additional navigation sensors, radar and lidar (laser version of radar). Coupled with the UK Autodrive research, the vehicle can now autonomously handle roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles on complicated roads. It can also park itself.

Mark Cund, Jaguar Land Rover Autonomous Vehicle Research Manager, said: ‘The Coventry Ring Road is known for its complicated slip roads and exits. It makes for very challenging conditions, especially when under pressure in the rush hour.

‘Our self-driving car is not impacted by the same pressure, frustrations or fatigue that a driver may experience and so it’s capable of turning a potentially very stressful situation into a completely stress-free one.’

For more information on the standard Range Rover Sport go to: Land Rover

Defender mules spotted

Heavily-camouflaged new model hits the streets

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The digital equivalent of a brown envelope filled with pictures being slid under the office door has caused a lot of chatter. A test ‘mule’ for the new Defender has broken cover.

There are ways of getting attention and having the hashtag #best4x4xfar in big letters down the side of a mule is a sure-fire way to get it noticed. It may as well have said #lookatme or #nothingtoseehere – both of which would have elicited a similar response.

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What can we see? Well, very little. Think back to the Discovery days and you had what essentially looked like a Range Rover Classic with a Truckman top on it – that gave a reasonable amount away. On the other hand, the Maestro Van-bodied Freelander mule didn't.

All we get from this is a tantalising glimpse of an independently-sprung vehicle, but will it look anything like this? Probably not – the mule looks more like a Discovery 3 than a ‘Defender’.

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Building instantly-recognisable, modern versions of classics seems to have worked for VW with the Beetle, BMW with the Mini, Fiat with the 500 and more. Get the average man in the street to point out cars in the street and I bet those would be the ones they would find easiest to accurately identify. And though they might miss-label a Series Land Rover as a Defender, they would at least recognise it as being a Land Rover.

The mule caught in the pics has a curved windscreen. Could the next generation Defender have a flat screen? Well, Jeep have managed it with the 2019 Wrangler, and Suzuki also have the new Jimny, so it is possible. And advances in technology means roll over protection systems have improved significantly since the 1940s when the Defender can trace its design roots back to – something should be possible.

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Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's head design bod, said something along the lines of: 'You'll be able to give the new Defender a kicking, and it'll get up for more.' And that's fine – it'll be a workhorse which is what people want a Defender to be. But there are also a lot of people wanting it to look like a Defender – so we’ll just have to keep an eye out for the mules as they slowly shed their disguises. 

It'll be alright on the night

LRO editor Neil and workshop editor Martin take on the military in Autumn Leaves

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I squint into the darkness to my left. My headtorch picks out a signpost in the gloom. ‘Turn left,’ I tell Martin. We overshoot the corner. He selects reverse and the Land Rover slews round on the wet grass, pointing the way I think we should be going. Bright driving lights turn night to day and the sign becomes legible, as does a faint track on the ground. ‘That’s the one – straight on!’

We’ve been driving for forty minutes so far, but are starting to lose time. We’d stopped on the previous phase of the Army Motorsport’s Autumn Leaves navigation rally and crawled into the time control because we were running too early, but a couple of navigation errors on this phase have cost us minutes. And the going is tougher.

Navigating across Salisbury Plain in the daytime with GPS is one thing; at night, against the clock and with no electronic assistance, it’s a whole different ball-game. Time is ticking away and we can’t even go quickly to make up time – the ground is too bumpy and throwing our competition-prepared Defender 90 all over the place.

We reach another junction. I know where we are and we could cut-and-run along it, but it crosses a ford, and I don’t know how deep it will be. And being off the route, we’re not likely to be found for a while if we get stuck. So we continue to follow the route, skipping round the river.

Three other vehicles are now ahead of us and there’s another behind. There’s nothing for it, we’re past our scheduled time at the control – we’ll have to go straight to it. The others turn right – we go straight on, followed by another crew, arriving at the control ten minutes late.

And we’re off again. ‘Turn left,’ I call and we shoot up an unsealed road onto the training area. It opens up, but this is a false junction – the one we want is further along. Martin spins the Defender round and we pick up the correct route, peering out for small 10cm square boards with letters on them – control boards to show we’ve followed the correct route.

More twists and turns see us in a village and at a manned passage control. A local wanders across the road to us outside the pub. ‘Turn left just there, mate,’ he tells Martin. He reeks of beer and continues: ‘I’ve seen the route – that’s the right way.’

My plot shows straight on, then turn left. We politely thank the man and continue down the road, then turn left, but we find no markers. I re-check the plots and the guy was right – we should have turned left.

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We’ve lost time, so we accept the penalties for missing the boards (1 point per board) and continue – we don’t want to lose too much time as well, or that will be more penalties. Now we know we’re scoring, we back-off a bit. I’m hugely competitive, but it’s still more about the fun than winning. We could stick to tarmac and cut down on travel time to the next control, or we could enjoy the greenlanes. We choose the latter.

Arriving at the time control eight minutes late, we’re racking up the penalties.

A long tarmac stretch follows and we follow another Defender along for a while before dropping back and giving them space. We catch them soon enough, though. On top of the Plain mist is forming, reducing the visibility. We dip beam and slow to a crawl. Not only is it tricky to see the road, the code boards are only visible for a few seconds in the beam pattern of the lights.

The other crew miss a junction in the fog and we almost do as well, but luckily catch sight of a kerb ending – the only indication there may be a road joining. We nip down it and along another byway and check in at the control right on time.

The final phase is right across the middle of the Plain – somewhere you could wind up the speed if you wanted to. Except that there is a 30mph limit on the tracks, and there are marshals with speed guns about. I’ve been caught speeding in competition in events before and it has always cost me trophies – you can miss code boards and make navigation errors, but speeding penalties are avoidable.

On the ‘fastest’ section of the track our lights illuminate a marshal who flags us in. We’ve been clocked at 25mph – well within the speed limit. With plenty of time remaining, we dawdle into the final time control and hand in our cards. It’s been a great night’s driving – but we haven’t done as well as we’d hoped.

But it’s not all over until all the score cards are in and though we haven’t done fantastically, everyone else has struggled more – and we’ve finished as First Experts, and are overall winners.

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The 90 is in one piece, we haven’t argued and we’ve got some glassware to take home. Not a bad night out!

Want to get involved in Navigation events? Army Motorsports runs them throughout the year and the next one is GEMM 4x4 Mudmaster, based in Glasgow on 27-28 October 2018. You don’t need to worry about having to beat me on this one – I’ll be marshaling and running one of the phases.

See you there!

Land Rover to celebrate 70 years at Goodwood

Visitors to Goodwood Festival of Speed will be treated to a feast of Land Rovers

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Land Rover takes to the famous Goodwood hillclimb with a special selection of 70 Land Rovers at this year’s Festival of Speed from 12-15 July, 2018. Spanning all Land Rover models, and with eye catching special editions and conversions the anniversary parade celebrates 70 decades of ‘Above and Beyond’ adventures and public service.

‘Huey’ HUE166, the first pre-production Land Rover prototype, will lead the procession followed by a cast of iconic Land Rovers including Series I, II, IIA and III, Defender, the four generations of Range Rover, the five generations of Discovery, Freelanders, Range Rover Sports, Discovery Sports, Evoques and Velars that bring the family up to date.

There will also be a selection of military, first response rescue vehicles and expedition vehicles that recall some of the greatest adventures in Land Rover history including Bob and Joe Ives’ winning Camel Trophy 110, and the millionth Discovery which was driven from Solihull to Beijing on the ‘Journey of Discovery’ expedition in 2012.

Also on ‘the hill’ is the Defender Works V8 which will be gearing up twice daily in the ‘First Glance’ batch and a staggering Guinness World Record attempt by stunt-driver Terry Grant. Terry will drive the Range Rover Sport SVR aiming to achieve the ‘Fastest Mile on Two Wheels’ title.     

Land Rover will sit alongside Jaguar once again this year in the exhibition area of the Goodwood grounds in its biggest format ever. All of the latest Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be on display including showpieces from the ‘Special Vehicles’ division to include the pinnacle of the Range Rover family; the Range Rover SV Coupe.

Visitors to the Festival will have the chance to get involved in the action too – experiencing Land Rover’s legendary off-road capabilities first-hand on a gravity defying obstacle course, whilst youngsters can join in the fun driving mini electric Defenders.

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Showgoers will also have the opportunity to meet and hear some of Land Rover’s ambassadors: Explorers Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Kenton Cool, rugby legends David Flatman, Martin Johnson and Jason Robinson, and stunt driver Terry Grant will be regaling the crowd with tales of their own Land Rover adventures.

And if the nostalgia of 70 years of Land Rover isn’t quite enough, Jaguar Land Rover has teamed-up with Top Trumps to reinvent the 80’s icon for today’s fans.  Jaguar Land Rover is introducing an exclusive digital Top Trumps App for Goodwood Festival of Speed visitors. The app is available for iOS & Android and is a digital version of the game.  Players will be able to play against each other and also compete with other players for a ranking on a live leader-board. Prizes include a trip for two to the Ice Drive Academy in Sweden including flights, tuition and luxury accommodation. Second place wins a year’s membership of a David Lloyd Club for two, while third wins £200 to spend in the Jaguar Land Rover boutique. Goodwood FoS visitors can download the App to claim their limited edition Top Trumps card game from the Jaguar Land Rover stand.

Tickets for the event are available from the Goodwood website.

What3words and Land Rover work to save lives

Land Rover works with British technology company to address location issues

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One of the difficulties with living on an island is knowing how to get to the more remote properties, especially in a hurry. Sat navs are fine, but they may not recognise the more remote places – and that could prove life-threatening in an emergency.

What3words gets around that by giving every 3m x 3m square on Earth a unique 'address' made up of three words. We mentioned it in our August 2016 issue, praising the idea and now Land Rover has teamed up with Dr Brian Prendergast on the Isle of Mull to give all 2000 residences a plaque with their unique address.

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The three-word addresses will help Dr Prendergast and his colleagues to respond to emergency call-outs more quickly and accurately, as well as improving everyday healthcare on Mull. Without detailed local knowledge of the island, it can be difficult for new members of his team to find individual homes where postcodes cover large areas and there may be no formal street names.

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Using three-word addresses will vastly improve the ability of doctors and nurses, particularly those new to the island, to locate and assist remote-living patients. We believe it will not only help us deliver a better routine healthcare service, but will save vital minutes in emergency call-outs that could literally save a life. The island is really grateful to what3words and Land Rover for putting Mull on the map.
— DR BRIAN PRENDERGAST, TOBERMORY & SALEN SURGERIES
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At Jaguar Land Rover we are passionate about the impact technology can make when combined with the talent of our people. Addressing Mull by Land Rover is the ideal way to launch our global humanitarian partnership with what3words, which has the potential to transform isolated communities around the world by making them more accessible. We have more than 40 active social impact projects that could benefit, so this is just the beginning of what we can achieve together as we explore exciting opportunities for the future.
— CHRIS THORP, RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS DIRECTOR, JAGUAR LAND ROVER
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Find your own what3words address using the map on the company's website.

New Landmark edition for Discovery Sport

Land Rover's fastest-selling model gets special edition

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The Discovery Sport has made record-breaking sales in 2017 – selling more in a single year than any other model in the company's 70 year history. And Land Rover has launched a Landmark special edition to celebrate.

Powered by the 177bhp (180PS) TD4 Ingenium engine, the Landmark features unique colour and trim combination. It'll be available in Narvik Black, Corris Grey and Yulong White, and all will have a Carpathian Grey contrast roof.

The exterior will be finished with a 'sporty and dynamic' front bumper, with Graphite Atlas exterior accents and 19in Style 521 ‘Mantis’ wheels in Gloss Dark Grey.

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The interior features Ebony grained leather seats and an Ebony headliner, complemented by dark grey aluminium finishers around the centre stack, a panoramic roof, MeridianTM sound system and heated steering wheel.

Like all of the other engines in the range, the 180PS engine is fitted with a particulate filter. The efficient, close-coupled filter is neatly integrated into the after treatment system and traps soot as the exhaust gas passes through it, making the engine cleaner.

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The Landmark Discovery Sport starts at £40,400 on the road and is available now.

For more info, check out the Land Rover website.

New life for rusty Discovery

Forward control makeover gives rusty Discovery new life

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Everyone knows how badly the body on a Discovery 1 rots, but the chassis and mechanicals seem to last forever. So, how about re-purposing the chassis, giving it a forward control driving position and a massive loadbed? That's what Rotodama have done with their Rediscovery.

The cab is a tubular-framed design and all the panels - including the glass - are flat for ease of replacement and are inset to reduce the likelihood of damage. The loadbed is a significant 12 foot x 6 foot and has a 1000kg payload.

With loads of mechanically-sound Discoverys languishing in farmyards, this could just be the conversion to breathe new life into them.

Click here to visit the Rotodama website

The ALRC National needs you!

The ALRC National Rally needs marshals to help it run smoothly

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The ALRC National Rally takes place at Stainby Quarry, Lincolnshire, over the late May bank holiday weekend, 26-28 May, 2018.

Marshals are needed to help the competitions run smoothly.

The competitions are:

  • Saturday, 26 May: CCV and Tyro trials
  • Sunday, 27 May: RTV trial and Team Recovery
  • Monday, 28 May: Comp Safari

If you're able to help, drop Jon Aldridge an email: jonaldridge@yahoo.co.uk

For more information about the ALRC National Rally 2018, click here

Land Rover celebrates 70 years

Global online broadcast to mark 70th anniversary of Land Rover's unveiling on 30 April 1948

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Land Rover will mark its 70th anniversary with a global broadcast celebrating the world's favourite 4x4s and the people who love them.

Starring the cars and the people who make and drive them, the online programme will pay tribute to seven decades of adventure, humanitarian aid and hard work across classes and cultures around the world.

The broadcast is at 20:00 BST on Monday 30 April – 70 years to the day since the first Land Rover made its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show. It will tell how Land Rover began as a utility model at the end of the Second World War and grew to become the world’s favourite 4x4, with more than 7 million sold.

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Viewers can expect great models from the past as well as inspirational people behind the legend and a look to the future, with a level of insight only available direct from the factory.

Prof Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO, said: 'Land Rover was born with the launch of a single vehicle. Today our family of SUVs is testament to the pioneering spirit of innovation that has characterised Land Rover for seven decades. Our family of Defender, Discovery and Range Rover models provides unrivalled capability, versatility and luxury, giving us the perfect foundation for another 70 years of success.

'Land Rover is so much more than just the most capable all-terrain vehicles. It connects people through a passion for adventure and making more of our world. From our employees to customers and enthusiasts, this is the family that makes Land Rover special.'

A vehicle line-up including HUE: the first prototype Land Rover, the original two-door Range Rover and the seven-seater Discovery, as well as expedition-proven models from across the decades, will share the stage at the Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry. The current range, including the sector-defining Range Rover Evoque and Velar SUVs, will also be on screen as Land Rover celebrates its lifelong status as a favourite among celebrities, politicians and royalty.

The year of 70th celebrations has already begun and one of the vehicles from the start of the story will star in the show. In January, Land Rover revealed plans to sympathetically renovate the world’s most historically significant unrestored model – one of three pre-production cars from the original Amsterdam motor show launch on 30th April 1948.

Now in the hands of the experts at Land Rover Classic, it will take the stage alongside its closest modern relative – the exclusive 405PS Defender Works V8 revealed earlier this year. Only 150 of the powerful 70th edition models will be produced and each of the specially engineered V8 derivatives will be built under the same roof, by Land Rover Classic’s team of expert engineers.

Land Rover to celebrate World Land Rover Day on 30 April

Land Rover announces 70th anniversary celebrations with world's most remote Defender outline

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After 70 years of all-terrain adventures and global expeditions, Land Rover has once again taken the Defender to new heights.

Stretching over 250 metres, the most remote Defender outline was imprinted some 2700m up on the side of a mountain in the French Alps y snow artist Simon Beck. The unique snow art was created to announce World Land Rover Day on 30 April, exactly 70 years since the original Land Rover was first shown to the world at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.

The unique image is a tribute to the moment when the engineering director of Rover, Maurice Wilks, first sketched the shape for the original Land Rover in the sand of Red Wharf Bay and proposed the idea to his brother Spencer, Rover's managing director.  The forward-thinking design was christened the 'Land Rover', the outline of which we now recognise as the Defender.

To watch the broadcast and take part in the celebrations, go to www.youtube.com/landrover at 20:00 BST on 30 April and use the hashtag #LandRover70Years

Sand blasting: Saxon Express event report

LRO Editor Neil Watterson takes on the military off-road at Bovington

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Ten miles in an hour. Doesn’t sound much, does it? After all, if Sir Roger Bannister had continued running at the speed he broke the four-minute mile barrier, he’d have covered fifteen miles in sixty minutes. But you try covering ten miles following a specified unmarked route, cross country in an almost featureless landscape, spotting and recording the letters stuck on 100mm squares. Welcome to the world of 4x4 navigation events.

We’re at the driver training area at Bovington, Dorset, home to the British Army’s Armour Centre, where soldiers are taught to drive and maintain armoured fighting vehicles. The terrain needs to be punishing to give the service personnel the skills they need; it’s harsh on tanks and even harsher on light 4x4s like Land Rovers.

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We’re competing in Saxon Express, an event run by the British Army Motorsports Association (BAMA) that will challenge both driver and navigator. And I’d go as far to say that the Bovington site offers the best combination of tricky navigation and driving – vast expanses of similar-looking terrain makes it easy to get disorientated, and the power-sapping sand coupled with very cut-up surface means you can’t go too fast, or too slowly.

Run as military exercises in which civilians can compete, all you need is a 4x4, light recovery kit and a navigator, then away you go. The event is made up of different phases, each designed to test driver and navigator, and for this event there are six.

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We kick off with a scatter. We’re set off at minute intervals and the start marshal hands us a map with twenty locations plotted on it. It’s simple enough, visit as many of the locations in any order in the time allowed and record the letter we find in the appropriate box. Sean, my son who is navigating for me, and I are veterans of this sort of event, so are competing in the Expert class – we have to deduce a couple of the locations from the clues given. Our aim is to record all twenty code boards; Novice and Beginner crews have to reach fewer locations.

We clear it, getting into the time control in time (you pick up one penalty for missing a board, two for each minute late – so it’s often better to cut-and-run if you’re close to your time) and it’s onto the trial sections.

Trials are driving a route determined by pairs of canes – called ‘gates’. The further you get along the section without ceasing forwards motion the lower the penalties you score. The aim is to clear it.

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The sections are set up by members of the Dorset Land Rover Club and are, in my opinion, just the right difficulty. Soft and slushy sand saps power, but go too fast and you’ll understeer into a cane. We clear the first section, but can’t quite get the traction to get through the 1 gate on the second section. The third section starts with a deep watersplash before climbing a steep concrete ramp. Traction isn’t an issue there, but it is when we face the soft, powdery sand towards the end of the section – at least the mound yields when I bash our Defender 90’s bumper into it.

Next up is an orienteering section. The locations have to be visited in sequential order and marshals are positioned to check compliance. You mark the scorecards with the punches, so you can’t note a letter down for later…

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I used to marshal BAMA events in the early 1990s and it would be relentless competition. These days you have to take into account driving hours regulations, so there’s an enforced lunch break. Everyone is back in, except Royal Navy’s Rory and Andrew in their Series IIA Land Rover. They’ve broken down, so we tow them off the area to sort a fix (it turned out to be the distributor had jumped out of engagement).

A gymkhana awaits after lunch – an autotest around cones and into garages, but not against the clock – then the Gunnery phase.

This sort of phase is becoming a mainstay of BAMA navigation events, where the venue is large enough. You’re given a distance and bearing. You have to plot it on the map from the firing position, visit the location, record the board and return for the next one. ‘Targets’ at 1km are worth three points, 750m two and 500m just one point. We opt for the high-scoring ones, but despite double-checking our plotting, we can’t find the first, nor the second target, so we go for a closer one, but can’t find that either. We know we’re in the right place, but we can’t find the boards.

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We decide to try one more but are informed the phase has been cancelled as the targets are in the wrong places. I’ve competed in some motorsports where crews would be haranguing the organisers about this sort of mistake, but that isn’t the case today. In the real world mistakes happen and it’s how we deal with them that shows us as we are. It’s easy for crews to fall out when things don’t go to plan; Sean and I are just happy we hadn’t lost the plot…

The temperature has plummeted. Snow is falling and water that’s thrown up by the wheels is freezing on contact with the Defender’s bodywork, but there’s no let-up for us, or the hardy marshals braving the bitter winds and keeping the event on track.

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We face a multi-format phase. Beginners are given sheets with the routes marked, experts get a variety of instructions, from traces to be marked onto maps to grid co-ordinates and tulip diagrams. Both the driving and navigation are hard and we’re up to the site speed limit of 30mph as much as possible to cover the miles. Speed cameras are used to enforce limits and they could be wielded by personnel wearing ‘crinkly green’, so the first you’d know about a speed trap is when you’re flagged down. And a 10-point penalty would spoil your day if you’re after the win.

We have to cut-and-run the end of the final section and check in at the time control ten seconds within our allocated time. Phew.

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So, how did we do? Well, penalty scores range from 17 points to 85 points, with some of the novice teams doing exceptionally well. As for Sean and I, we've taken first overall/first expert. With crews competing from all over the UK – including a Scottish crew who made the nine-hour drive to the south coast of England the day before – it was a tough competition.

Interested in having a go yourself? The next event is Magnum Spirit at Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire, on Sunday 3 June 2018, and BAMA runs other similar events throughout the year across the country. See you there!

Changes at the top at Land Rover

Moves in the management at Land Rover suggest change is on its way

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While Geneva’s Cointrin Airport was bustling with winter sports enthusiasts heading for their late season resorts, over the road at the Palexpo venue for the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS18), members of the motoring media were wondering whether Jaguar Land Rover was also heading for a slippery slope, writes Mike Gould.

This followed the re-location of the company’s stand into a desolate corner next to owners, Tata Motors, and a lacklustre press conference debuting the Range Rover SV Coupé and the Jaguar I-PACE electric car.

The event was previewed by the surprise announcement that Felix Bräutigam would become Chief Marketing Officer, effectively absorbing the responsibilities of Andy Goss, who as Sales Operations Director had been presiding over a rapid rise in Jaguar and Land Rover demand. Goss, would be leaving to ‘pursue new challenges in the automotive business’ – shorthand for not wanting to stick around in the new organisation.

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Anyone wondering why the JLR event seemed so downbeat was given another reason for the gloom when, just over a week later, it was reported that Special Vehicle Operations MD, John Edwards, was also on his way to be replaced by Michael van der Sande joining the company from the Renault sports car division, Alpine.

Edwards’ departure marks another step in the demise of former Rover Group and Land Rover staff to be replaced by European car men (Bräutigam is German, van der Sande, Dutch) and poses the question as to who might be next.

There are fears it could be Land Rover’s Chief Design Office, Gerry McGovern. Recently awarded the prestigious Designer of the Year Award at the 33rd Festival Automobile International, Land Rover could be seen as too small a showcase for McGovern’s prodigious talent. Insiders also report that his ambitious design themes for the brand are being tamed by more cautious members of the board. His proposals for the Discovery and Discovery Sport were rumoured to be much more radical than the designs that eventually went into production while the motoring press certainly expected something more of the Range Rover SV Coupé.

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Following the success of the LRX-derived Evoque, motor manufacturers would be queuing up to grab McGovern but he certainly has enough cachet to open his own studio, perhaps taking with him some of Land Rover’s best creative talent.  If these fears are real, they could certainly explain McGovern’s uncharacteristically hesitant performance at Geneva.

All this comes against the background that JLR is, despite a 6.5% increase in sales for 2017, a minnow when compared with other manufacturers. While JLR garnered 621,000 customers in 2017, rival specialist BMW flagged over two million and the Fiat Chrysler group double that. JLR’s biggest weapon in its armoury is its distinctive British design. If that edge is lost, then it’s going to be a world as cold and as hard as the mountains framing Geneva for the UK’s flagship motor manufacturer.

Sport SVR sets Tianmen Road record

Range Rover Sport SVR beats record held by Ferrari for the 11.3km ascent

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We all talked about how un-sporty the first-generation Range Rover Sport was. Supercharged petrol engine aside, the performance was more runabout than hot hatch. But since those early days, the vehicle has become sportier.

Come the second generation L494, though, and things have gone even further, with the SVR versions blurring the lines between sports car and off-roader.

Land Rover’s latest record attempt is on the 11.3km Tianmen Road, China; the road that leads to the steps up to Heaven’s Gate, which a hybrid Sport PHEV successfully climbed.

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The benchmark set by a Ferrari 458 Italia in 2016, was 10 minutes 31 seconds (an average of 40.06mph over the 99-corner road) was smashed by test driver Ho-Pin Tung in the 567BHP/516lb ft SVR, covering the route in 9 minutes 51 seconds, averaging 42.77mph.

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Driver Ho-Pin Tung said: ‘I am used to the high speeds of racing but these 99 turns were something unique. Maintaining concentration was the biggest challenge as the road twists and turns constantly, with huge drop-offs to the side. The consequences of getting it wrong would have been really serious so I focused on establishing a rhythm and the Range Rover Sport SVR made this easy – it may be an SUV but it has the performance and agility of a supercar and can take you to places a supercar can only dream of.’

More info

Range Rover Sport SVR Tech Spec

  • Engine: 5.0-litre V8 supercharged
  • Power: 567BHP
  • Torque: 516lb ft
  • 0-60mph: 4.3 seconds
  • Max speed: 176mph
  • Combined mpg: 22.1mpg

Range Rover SV Coupé revealed

Land Rover launches 2-door SV Coupé at Geneva Motor Show

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Land Rover has introduced its latest model at the Geneva motor show: the Range Rover SV Coupé. The world’s first two-door, full-size luxury SUV is based on a heavily modified L405 Range Rover (the only shared exterior parts are the bonnet, lower tailgate, lights and fuel flap). 

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This four-seater brings the brand into super luxury coupé sector, competing with Rolls-Royce and Bentley – and with a price to reflect that: from £240,000. Only 999 SV Coupés, hand-assembled to customers’ specifications, will be produced next year at the SVO Technical Centre in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire.

A 565PS and 700Nm 5.0-litre supercharged V8 powers the new two-door Range Rover. Coupled with the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, the Coupé will make the 0-60mph sprint in 5.0sec and have a top speed of 165mph – faster than any standard Range Rover.

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The colour palette extends to 100 shades with finishes in gloss or matt, on top of ‘match to sample’ hues. The Liquesence paint option brings a ‘liquid metal’ finish while the Contour Graphic offers a contrasting tint to the flanks, from the side vents back. New wheel designs are offered in 21, 22 and 23 inches – the latter being a first on a production Range Rover.

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Mega luxury and delicate craftsmanship are evident in the two-tone cabin. The 20-way front and 10-way electrically adjustable rear graduated diamond quilt seats may be specified in different colours. 

There are new wood finishes, such as fused walnut and sycamore or palisander on the steering wheel, door casings, centre console, instrument panel and loadspace floor, reminiscent of the L322 Ultimate Edition Range Rover.

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Bespoke headrest embroidery, door handles and treadplates, engraving and semi-precious metal badging will be offered. The 1700-watt, 23-speaker, sound system features Trifield 3D ‘concert sound’ technology.

Alterations to the chassis include an 8mm lower stance (the suspension automatically lowers by 15mm above 65mph). The Range Rover retains its world-class 900mm maximum wading depth. The Terrain Response 2 is kept, too, along with the Active Locking Rear Differential.

Land Rover offers a five-year Care Package, covering services including brake replacement. Range Rover SV Coupé sale will start in the fourth quarter of 2018. You can register your interest at landrover.com

Range Rover SV Coupé Tech Spec

  • Engine: Supercharged 4999cc V8 petrol
  • Max power: 458bhp
  • Max torque: 516lb ft.
  • 0-60mph: 5.0 seconds
  • Top speed: 165mph
  • Gearbox: 8-speed ZF automatic with 2-speed transfer box
  • Brakes: 380mm front, 365mm rear
  • Length: 5013 mm
  • Width: 2220mm
  • Height: 1794mm
  • Fording depth: 900mm
  • Approach angle at off-road height: 31°
  • Breakover angle at off-road height: 26.5°
  • Departure angle at off- road height: 25°
  • Ground clearance: 263mm
  • Wheels: 21, 22 or 23-inch with new dark grey and silver polished alloys
  • Tyres: 275/45 R21, 275/40 R22 or 275/40 R23
  • Price: from £240,000

Land Rover Explore smartphone launched

£599 rugged Android smartphone that's as tough as a Land Rover

Where would we be without our mobile phones? Even the most tech-unfriendly will have a phone of some kind or other (probably a Nokia 3310…), but most of us now have smartphones. And Land Rover has launched a smartphone with a battery life to rival that of the old Nokia: the Land Rover Explore.

Capable of running for two days of typical use, and able to double that with the Adventure Pack, the £599 Land Rover Explore is a rugged full-HD Android mobile phone with a five-inch screen.

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It’s drop-tested to 1.8 metres and can survive underwater and cope with extreme temperatures, humidity, thermal shock and vibration exposure - watch the video

The screen is bright enough to use in full sunlight and can be controlled with gloves or wet fingers. It’s also fully compatible with all Land Rover in-car apps.

The phone will be available to order from 26 April 2018. For more details and to register an interest, check out the website

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Land Rover Explore outdoor phone specifications

  • Huge battery (4000mAh) plus add-on battery pack
  • IP68 splash, water and dust resistance
  • Drop-proof to 1.8 metres with factory-fitted screen protector
  • Premium grade, detailed off-road topographical mapping options from ViewRanger with Augmented Reality Skyline feature
    • In-box premium off-road mapping voucher, giving a choice of country-wide or custom region topographical maps in many markets.
  • Customisable outdoor dashboard to access to the most important weather information, sensor data, and on-device tools for your activity: eg weather, wind, tides, compass, SOS light
  • Android Nougat OS, with scheduled upgrade to Oreo
  • 4GB RAM and 64GB ROM, expandable via microSD
  • Deca-core 2.6GHz 64 bit MTK Helio X27 chipset with dual SIM functionality
  • 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, 4x digital zoom
  • Bright five-inch FHD display, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protected, optimised for outdoor use
    • Touchscreen can be controlled with gloves on or with wet fingers
    • Night red filter mode reduces screen glare, preserving natural vision in low light and at night
  • LTE Cat 6
  • Curated apps and content catalogue relevant to outdoor pursuits

Adventure Pack specification

  • 3600mAh additional battery
  • 25 x 25mm ceramic patch GPS antenna
  • TPU protective case
  • Stainless steel carabiner with canvas strap
  • IP68 and 1.8-metre drop tested

Bike Pack specification

  • Bike mount and case for both stem and handlebar
  • Tilt to adjust viewing angle or change device orientation

Battery Pack specification

  • Ultimate battery performance, additional 4,370 mAh of battery capacity
  • IP68 and 1.8-metre drop tested

Range Rover Sport PHEV climbs to Heaven’s Gate

As far as publicity stunts go, driving a Range Rover Sport up one of China’s most famous landmarks is quite a feat.

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The showroom-standard Sport, a P400e plug-in hybrid (PHEV), started its run from
the bottom of the legendary seven-mile-long Tianmen Mountain Road – known as the Dragon Road thanks to its twists and turns – in Hunan Province, before attempting the epic final ascent to the Heaven’s Gate natural rock arch.

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Powered by a combination of the 296bhp 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine and 85kW electric motor, the Sport effortlessly conquered the phenomenal 999-step, 45º stairway.

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Driver Ho-Pin Tung said: ‘I’ve won at Le Mans, but this was one of the most demanding driving challenges I’ve faced.’