As a responder with the North West 4×4 Response (NW4x4R) team, I’ve recently had the opportunity to complete LANTRA training with the group. Specifically the “Off-Road Vehicle Operations (4×4)” course. It’s a tricky course for the Freelander2 with some very deep ruts.
The NW4x4r LANTRA Course
Well, the best way to describe the course is with pictures, so here is a video attempting the course.
Running out of clearance
The Freelander clearance, at 200mm, is a little bit low for this course which normally sees Land Rover Defenders passing over at 320mm. While we manage to complete most of the course, eventually the back end of the Freelander becomes bottomed out. The fuel tank is protected by a Mantec aluminium guard, so it becomes more of a sledge than a stuck car.
Fortunately, this provides an added opportunity for a live recovery training situation. It was pretty much expected, so the recovery strap was attached before setting off. My number one tip for going off-road, always take a classic Land Rover with you!
Then there is the small matter of cleaning out the tyres, brakes, brake discs, wishbones etc. But no damage is done, and the little Freelander almost made it round the full course.
The Difference In Tyres
Part of the reason the Freelander made it round the NW4x4R course so far, despite slowly rolling the ground flat, is the tyres. I normally run on all-weather tyres. But knowing this course was coming up, and travelling fewer and fewer miles, I’ve recently swapped to General Grabber AT3s.
They came highly recommended by other Freelander2 owners on FL2OG and the FreeL2 forum. And I have to say, I’m mightly impressed. They are definitely a little noisier, which is to be expected with the larger block size. Dry and wet road performance is little changed compared to the previous all season Pirrellis, perhaps due to the differences in wear.
Aesthetically, the tyres now give away some of the Freelander2s off-road capability, it’s certainly not a tarmac princess. And off-road the video shows just how well the tyres perform in the deep soft mud of the NW4x4R LANTRA course.
Increasing the ground clearance
Having beached out for the second time off-road, I’m seriously considering getting the Freelanders belly off the ground. But how far should I take it?
This may be a little bit too much, perhaps just 50mm would be enough. That said, do I really need to create more ground clearance. I’ve only bottomed out, expectedly, during training. I don’t really need to be that far off-road, and the rest of the handling capacity of the car is perfect for responding with NW4x4R. I guess time will tell!