‘It’s only done about 40,000 miles,’ explains co-driver Chris Ratter, ‘but they were hard miles!’
They certainly were. This 1998 Freelander 1 is a veteran of numerous rally events across the country, having competed with Chris since 2009, including as a Race2Recovery vehicle.
So it's had an action-packed life, this Freelander. As well as being a pre-production model, first registered in 1998, it's served as a prototype for much of the rally engineering devised for the low-budget Freelander Challenge by Chris and his team at Xceed Motorsport.
This isn’t the vehicle’s first outing at Wales Rally GB, but for 2016 it does come with a few new tricks up its sleeve. ‘It’s just one step further from the Freelander Challenge cars – we want to show how much you can achieve with an almost-standard Freelander,’ says the vehicle’s new owner, and driver for this weekend, Adam Entwistle.
That one step has involved giving the 1.8-litre K-series engine a new, programmable ECU (to enable different tunes between stages) and high-lift cams. It’s also been treated to a straight-through exhaust and close-ratio gearbox, but compared to the V6 M-Sport Rallye Freelander that will also be in the runnings this weekend, it’s an exercise in no-frills, down-to-earth rallying.
Despite the tweaks to the K-series, that fettled V6 will churn out about 120bhp more, which should make it killer fast when the 1.8 starts to run out of puff or long straights or climbs.
‘We’re just hoping to finish, but it’d be nice if we get somewhere,’ says Adam. Victory may be a faint hope, but the combined rally experience of him and Chris should put the pair in a strong position to give the M-Sport a run for its money. Adam’s a regular Armed Forces Rally Team driver, with five seasons of British Rally Championship competing under his belt, as well as two years at Rally Reykjavik.
Adam and Chris’s 1.8-litre Freelander will be competing as Car 266 this weekend. The V6 M-Sport Rallye Freelander will be Car 265.
Watch the action for real at Sweet Lamb from this Friday. Single stage tickets can be bought at the gate on the day for £30. Or for £99 you’ll get access to all 19 stages throughout the event.