4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
LRE Trek Event – March 2015
Words by James Trembath

Landrover are well renowned for running competitions, first came the Camel Trophy which then became the G4 challenge, which in turn morphed into the G4 Trek which was run for LR franchise dealerships backs in 2007. Continuting the tradition in 2015 Landrover launched the LR Trek event aimed at LR Experience personnel. It is designed as a three day competition to find the best two LRE instructors. The event is open to all LRE centres and this year included entrants from China, Russia, USA, Spain, France and Germany not to mention the UK teams. In all 22 teams took part in the event in March 2015 at Eastnor Castle.

The event started with a welcome to Eastnor castle with a great lunch and speech on expectations from David Saunders. That was after we had been dropped at the end of the ridgeway to walk down with our kit to a waiting convoy. A good chance to try out the new Discovery Sport with four up and a week’s luggage over the Eastnor tracks certainly proved the vehicles worth and ability.

We started the event with an introduction into advanced recovery and winching techniques including using some improvised methods. We also had a refresher course on bearings and grid plotting plus GPS usage and pacing to enable us to all brush up on navigation skills. Further teachings included bridge building techniques and rope work, all essential skills that we would soon be needing to use under time constraints over the next few days.

After an interesting convoy drive to camp 1, which took a little longer than expected, the Discovery 4s were certainly put through their paces! We had time to pitch tents and eat and evening meal, or so we thought, after being in camp 20mins or so we were called down for a camp fire chat with event coordinator Simon Day from D3. Part way through a distress call came in on a radio about a stuck vehicle having being involved in an incident requiring immediate assistance. Splitting down to eleven vehicles we departed around 2200hrs to locate and provide assistance to the vehicle. This exercise was to be our last teach of the event. Having found the vehicle and first aid being applied the vehicle was then extracted from its predicament and around 0100hrs were started to make our way back to camp 1. To then come across another vehicle, this time having being involved in a high speed incident, it was neatly parked upside down between some trees! It was pretty late by the time we were back to camp after this little tester!

Day two saw a 0600hrs start before being split in to groups to undertake a rotation of group tasks spread around Eastnor. These ranged from moving ‘valuable’ cargo across ravines to bridge building, to lake traverses, to navigation exercises. We also had some vehicle preparation to undertake, some vehicle parts to name, wheels to change, some precision driving sections and winching tests. All of them were designed to help you work as a team and required both mental and physical ability. We also undertook a variety of convoy drives around Eastnor taking in the majority of their level two routes before stopping to make camp.

Ed Stafford provided an inspirational talk to us about his walk down the Amazon, from its source to the sea, plus Roger Crathorne the LR man himself who spoke of his times undertaking testing at the Eastnor estate before it became the home of LR.

Simon had a little task for us that evening – to rebuild the original Camel bridge deep in one of the many Eastnor ravines, once finished we then had to get one vehicle across it and up and old track that had not been used for a ‘few’ years. We also had the privilege of driving the Eastnor 6x6 as it’s called which in fact is a 4 x 6, and interesting beast, not having a driven rear axle! Another long night but what a night 44 people working hard to rebuild the bridge, including carrying down the materials, opening up the routes, and finally driving a vehicle across and winching it up the far side, a mere three winch pulls, it was a shame the rope wasn’t spliced to the end of the drum properly though which we found out on the second pull when it wouldn’t capstan onto the drum! On completion we had an exceptional convoy drive back to camp again, all great fun and fantastic learning experience. At least night two wasn’t as cold as the first night! Shame we didn’t get much more sleep either though!

Our final day of testing saw us undertake an assortment of tasks mostly concentrating on accurate driving, including towing tasks(!) combined with some lateral thinking tasks playing with reaction times, map reading, mind problems and just plain old initiative. We managed to get all the tasks completed within the four hour time frame – but only just! We also had some cracking results on them too which must have been the luck of the draw. What it did mean though was that it had all given us a place in the head to head final.

The final consisted of a two team event compromising of testing driving skills and initiative under a time constraint and knowing you are competing directly against another team. D3 had set a superb course around the ‘Sheep Field’ at Eastnor. A cracking test of driving ability and team work throughout, which included the inevitable bridge build of course and finished with a winch task involving balancing a tyre on a beam to lift it to a set height to hit a certain spot on a beam. There was only about 5s in it by the end!

A great event giving everyone a fantastic experience and understanding of what Landrover is all about and what makes the brand so passionate. Some great friendships made and a great deal learnt. Thank you Simon and crew.

A video clip of the event courtesy of Lloyd Bell

Some pictures from the event courtesy of Neil Emmerson