Deputy editor Neil is at his most annoying on Mondays, when he invariably gives the impression of having had a more interesting weekend than anyone one else.
Determined not to be outdone again, I decided it was time I had a stab at one of the navigation challenges run by BAMA (the British Army Motorsports Association) that he keeps harping on about. They always sound like darn good fun. Now I can confirm from first-hand experience, they are.
The cryptic words ‘Spring Foil’ were scribbled in the diary for Sunday 22nd March, my mate Pete agreed to try his hand at navigating, and I set to work prepping the LRO Discovery 1 for scrutineering (not much needed - most of the criteria were already met). Neil would be piloting the LRO 90, joined by Watty Jnr, aka Sean, in the co-pilot’s seat. Our two vehicles would compete as a team. It was a date.
Throughout the day we were given maps, aerial images and diagrams of the army training area at Swynnerton in Staffordshire, ranging from very clear to pigging awful to read. Deliberately so! It’s an absolute headache for the navigator, who has to use every bit of processing power his/her brain can muster in order to decipher the maps fast enough. For the driver, it’s a case of chucking your vehicle as quickly and as safely as you can around tarmac roads, rough tracks and through buildings, while ensuring you stay within the strict speed limits, and keeping a sharp eye out for other vehicles… or hapless cadets. And all the time you're watching the clock.
Pete did an admirable job. At lunch time we were running sixth out of 22 cars (most of them MoD Land Rovers driven by military personnel in camo gear), but at the end of the day I was given a speeding penalty which dropped us to eighth place. Meanwhile the Watties in the LRO 90 were putting in a consistently strong performance and finished the day in second, just behind the Urquharts in another Defender 90, who took the victory.
Annoyingly, without my speeding penalty, Team LRO would have been the highest scoring team. So now I owe everyone a trophy. Bummer...
Big thanks go to Clerk of the Course, Bernie Stevens, and his team of good-natured marshals for making the event happen.
If your Land Rover can take a bit of hard driving, have a go at one of BAMA’s upcoming navigation challenges throughout the year. The next off-road navigation rally like this one, called Magnum Spirit, takes place at Milbrook training ground on May 10. Click here for more details.
For more Land Rover events that you can join around the country, check out LRO’s events calendar.