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April 2018

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones discusses inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China

WORLD OF ADVENTURE

WORLD OF ADVENTURE Scientific research may have inspired the earliest expeditions, like those first undertaken by early Series Land Rovers and Defenders. But over the decades, it has been the spirit of adventure, courage and resilience – setting out simply to prove that something can be done – that has driven new generations of explorers to push themselves and achieve the remarkable. Standing around a campfire in the snowy grounds of Eastnor Castle near Ledbury, it is the perfect opportunity to talk to a select group that knows more than most about this adventurous spirit: Iain Chapman, participant and Managing Director of the Camel Trophy for a decade, Simon Day and Niki Davies, who were the brains behind its successor, G4, and Phil Jones, Senior Land Rover Experience Instructor. They have come here to Eastnor to be reunited with their work and, not least, the vehicles that they came to know and love as trusted partners throughout the years. Iain Chapman is a tough, no-nonsense Scot, former army man and enthusiastic diver, widely recognised as one of the most experienced expedition leaders on the planet. He is understandably proud that even today, the Camel Trophy is viewed by many as the definitive vehicle-based adventure event. “I inherited a template of ‘1,000 Miles of Adventure’, but before long we were undertaking journeys of 1,600 miles,” he says, leaning out of the window of the now iconic Sandglow Discovery 1, kept in its original state with its yellow and black Camel Trophy decals – a vehicle that, to many, has become synonymous with the competition itself. “The cars were up to it, competitors loved it and the press were happy. Adventure became the norm.” Launched in 1980 with three German teams driving the notorious Transamazonica Highway, the Camel Trophy would soon be known as the ‘Olympics of 4x4’. As a competition, it rewarded teamwork and resilience and took its participants across some of the worlds’ most inhospitable terrain. Its challenge was to push both human and automotive capability to their limits. No wonder Land Rover saw a shared ethos and signed up to become a sponsor in 1981. Chapman was asked to take on the management of the competition in 1987 and would stay on to oversee it for more than a decade. In almost every country he visited to set up events, he made use of military introductions, making his background very handy. “Contacts were often made through diplomatic channels, in a lot of cases at prime minister level,” he Above: The Camel Trophy showing why it earned the reputation as the definitive vehicle-based adventure event. Above right: G4 Event Director Niki Davies, G4 Competitions & Logistics Director Simon Day and Senior Land Rover Experience Instructor Phil Jones were all heavily involved in the Land Rover G4 Challenge events in 2003 and 2006 recalls. “And if we were not successful, the next contact would be the military general in charge of the region in question. Some of these guys were scary!” VEHICLE OF CHOICE In 1990, the Camel Trophy reached Siberia, a firstof-its-kind event made possible under Chapman’s management, not least thanks to his military contacts. But that wasn't the only thing that was new. That year of Glasnost and Perestroika also saw the introduction of a new vehicle: the Land Rover Discovery. The Discovery utilised Range Rover underpinnings and had the makings of a supremely capable off-road vehicle. The Camel Trophy gave it the greatest world stage possible to prove its credentials. It would prove itself immediately. On arriving in the remote Siberian town of Irkutsk after a journey of more than 1,000 miles across the snowy wastelands of the unforgiving Russian tundra, Chapman and his team sat down to debrief before flying home. Land Rover engineers reported back that only two per cent of the vehicle spare parts had been required. The remaining 98 per cent was untouched, still in the plastic wrapping in which it had first been delivered from the factory! And so, from 1990 onwards, the Discoverys would play the central role in every Camel Trophy, bar the last vehicle event in 1998 that used the Freelander. TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW A decade later, the hugely successful Camel Trophy had run its course. However, Land Rover was quick to fill the space with the Land Rover G4 Challenge in 2003. The first event was held with 16 different nation participants across locations in the USA, South Africa and Australia over 28 days. The winner, Belgian fighter pilot Rudi Thoelen, famously negotiated swapping his prize of a brand-new Range Rover for two new Defenders. The Land Rover G4 Challenge was carefully managed to include challenging off-road driving, but also minimise environmental impact. There was just as much focus on outdoor sports as off-road driving. Standing in front of one of the original ‘Tangiers Orange‘ G4 Discoverys in the Eastnor snow, former Competitions and Logistics Director Simon Day explains: “A single-owned brand adventure event had to stand out against the multi-sponsored competitions. It had to have a unique appeal and appearance, and it had to be judged as a credible replacement for the Camel. It had to be relevant.” PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTY IMAGES 62

RIGHT XXXXXX “ADVENTURE STARTS WITH A DREAM, AN INSPIRATION OR A TWIST OF FATE. ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE, IT’S WAITING FOR YOU AND IT’S TIMELESS” SIMON DAY, DIRECTOR, LAND ROVER G4 CHALLENGE It also had to be self-sufficient and make money, former Event Director Niki Davies reveals: “G4 had to cover its costs while also underlining the breadth of capability of a product range synonymous with adventure, exploration and discovery. I’m pleased to say it exceeded its targets.” A second Challenge ran in 2006 across Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia. South African adventure racer Martin Dreyer won, saying: “The Land Rover G4 Challenge was the best experience of my life. Nothing has come close to it in terms of the enormity of it. The experience was out of this world.” Australian competitor Alina McMaster adds: “I don’t know any other event where you are doing all these sorts of things. You get so many different fun things to do. It was the perfect competition.” THE SPIRIT ENDURES Today, Land Rover’s adventurous spirit remains alive and well, as shown by Land Rover Experience‘s global offerings. But is the time ripe for the return of a ‘pure’ adventure event? Iain, Simon and Niki believe so. “I can see a future for an event like Camel Trophy, but based on people, an understandable objective, and aided by the use of a 4x4 vehicle. The future lies with the people, supported by the car,” Iain says. He is backed up by Niki, who today coordinates brand activities across Jaguar Land Rover UK. “Adventure is more relevant now than it ever was before,” she says. Simon, who now runs a successful events agency, adds: “Adventure is not defined by the extreme. It starts with a dream, an inspiration or a twist of fate. Something happens, something is achieved and a story is created. The final act is in the telling, the sharing or keeping secret of those moments that affect you, change you, and define you and your mates. Adventure is out there, it’s waiting for you and it is timeless.” Today, as they stand next to the classic vehicles, it is as if the competitions never ended and a hint of nostalgia hits the air. The group looks as if they’d be ready to jump back in behind the wheel and start all over again. The adventure, it seems, still lives on. DISCOVER MORE about these extraordinary expeditions and the adventurers behind them. Search “Legends Reunited - Land Rover 70th Anniversary” on YouTube or visit http://bit.ly/LandRover70 CHARITABLE ADVENTURE Now celebrating its own 20th anniversary, the Fifty 50 Challenge was a voluntary event created in 1998 by Land Rover employees to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the marque. The ambitious aim was to travel to 50 countries in 50 days and raise 50,000 British pounds for UNICEF. Two leading members – former Land Rover principle vehicle designer Peter Crowley and engineer Stuart Martin – were each reunited with two of the Challenge’s four vehicles at Eastnor as part of the exclusive Onelife gathering: ‘Goldilocks’, a Defender 110 (so named because of the golden anniversary paint) and ‘Baby Bear’, one of the three early Freelanders that took part. Stuart Martin explains: “31 colleagues had volunteered to take part, and after months of after-hours preparation we made it happen. In the end we raised over double the original target for UNICEF and managed to visit a total of 56 countries. It was a an intensely human way to celebrate Land Rover’s 50th birthday, and it was a real adventure too!” 63

 

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