The West

4WD: Hitting the dirt
W4 Challenge: Neil Telfer's Series 3 driven by Wolfram Schwarz. Supplied picture

The West Australians from the Australian Land Rover Owners' online forum have again demonstrated why lovers of the "green oval" badge passionately defend their Land Rover choice.

Earlier this month, the fun and family-oriented W4 Challenge saw everyday domestic transports flexing their off-road muscles on a staged course designed to progressively test drivers.

With help on offer from organisers and fellow participants, even novices without modified competition rigs could enjoy themselves safely. With the one strict rule of "LR only", the wide range of vehicles in the field reflected Land Rover's long history of building tough off-roaders.

The tireless organisers all deserved trophies for their efforts, with David Long, Jurgens Crafford, Ian Whitaker and Kieren Aubrey having a tough task designing a fair competition for a mixed field of 52 participants, which included a 1954 Landie through to a current model Range Rover Sport.

The scoring system had a series of penalties to try and even out the vehicles; points were deducted for traction control and things such as diff locks, according to the organisers.

Given the dry stages, this proved a benefit to older vehicles. Had the course been wet, later vehicles with traction aids would have had a definite advantage.

While the Discovery 3 and 4, and Range Rover Sports were clear winners in off-road ability, organisers said it was amazing to see 50-plus year-old Landies in final placings. While older vehicles were cheered on by enthusiastic spectators, Gordon German's faultless performance in a demo Evoque from event sponsors Southern Land Rover was noteworthy.

Despite looking like it should be parked on the Claremont cafe strip, the Evoque didn't put a tyre wrong as it traversed the little "speed humps" through a steep gully.

Competitors were challenged by the Linn Rover Raging River (a rocky creek bed), Lifestyle 4x4's Uphill Struggle, Triumph Rover Spares woody meander and Green Oval Experience's technical challenge that deviously incorporated sensory deprivation and mind games which resulted in plenty of competitors losing more points than they earned.

Dave Dover, in a Series III Lightweight, took out the W4 Challenge Shield sponsored by Linn Rover. Andy Rogers (Series II) was second with Mike Penders (Range Rover Classic) third. Deb Whitelock (County 110 V8) was awarded the Drive of the Day.

Ian Tomlinson discovered his Defender 130 twin-cab's extended tray is practical for larger loads but a serious handicap manoeuvring around a competition course.

His score of -243, some 490 points behind first place, earned him the Horse's Ass trophy for generally making a hash of everything.

The Telf Objet d'Art trophy was welded from bits of Neil Telfer's diff that blew up spectacularly when he tried an almost vertical rock face. It honoured Telfer as the instigator of the competition last year and recognised the participant that most catastrophically broke something.

The inaugural winner was organiser Dave Long, who sheared a front wheel hub and rolled his Discovery on the way to the event on Friday morning. With typical Land Rover spirit and brilliant teamwork, the W4 crew replaced the hub on Saturday morning and Dave was up and running again.

As one participant summed it up: "Losing has never been so much fun."

The West Australian

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