If you were to pick the least appropriate modern vehicle upon which to base a race car, could you top the Land Rover Defender? All those assets prized by race engineers – wieldiness, low centre of gravity, responsive feedback, a modicum of pace – are exactly those shunned by the veteran Defender in favour of swamp-crushing plod and the ability to survive a direct hit from the Death Star’s superlaser. Turning a Defender into a racer is like entering a dromedary into the Grand National.
But here it is, Champion the Wondercamel, parked up in a muddy quarry, gently bemused TG employee in its driver’s seat gazing over an oxymoronic blend of Defender and race track. The architecture of Land Rover’s no-frills 4x4 is clear – Sixties-spec stubby switchgear, welly-optimised pedals, bare-metal doors – but adorned with proper race-spec accoutrements. Full buckets with five-point harnesses, a pair of fire extinguishers, intercom, a bevy of kill switches, and, where the scrawny farm collie and bale of hay normally lurk behind the front seat, a spare tyre instead. Oh, and a rather intimidating FIA-approved roll cage.
Pictures: Rowan Horncastle