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 G4 Challenge

Land Rover had very happily sponsored the Camel trophy events from 1981 until 1998 when it was noted that the event had moved away somewhat from being a 4x4 challenge. Land Rover still wanted to have a full-on off road challenge showcase for their vehicles, and so they  introduced the Land Rover G4 Challenge.

In 2003 the first Land Rover G4 Challenge was launched with teams from 16 participating nations who traversed the USA, South Africa and Australia over the course of 28 days. The 2003 Challenge was won by Belgian fighter pilot Rudi Thoelen. Rudi declined the prize of a brand new Range Rover, opting instead for two new Defenders. The Team Spirit Award was won by Tim Pickering from the UK, this award was given by the other competitors for the person who in their view contributed most to the race.

The 2006 G4 Challenge saw 18 nations participating in the trial which was staged across Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia. Land Rover delivered a more vehicle-focused event in 2006 after some criticism that the 2003 event focused too strongly on the adventure-sports element, which had been a criticism of the 1998 Camel Trophy. South African adventure racer Martin Dreyer was the eventual winner of the 2006 event.

In 2007, the Land Rover announced a partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would have seen the programme aim to generate more than £1 million over the course of the next two G4 Challenges. The prize for the winning team in these events would have been the donation of a Land Rover to their nation's Red Cross or Red Crescent Society. 

The 2008/9 Challenge was intended to be staged in Mongolia with selections events in 2008 and 2009 and the main event later in 2009. the event was billed as: "a thrilling three-week off-road driving and multi sport adventure in the wilds of Asia". 18 countries would have competed. However Land Rover announced the cancellation of the event on the 18th December 2008 due to the current global financial situation. It is currently unclear if there will be future events.

The 2009 G4 Challenge would have seen the introduction of several revisions to the previous Challenge composition. Land Rover announced a slight change to the team dynamics for the 2008/9 Challenge, there would be one male and one female competitor from each country competing as a team with their own team Land Rover against other participating countries. In the previous Challenges there had been one competitor per country, male or female and countries were not allocated their own Land Rover. Instead the entire range of Land Rovers - Range Rover, Freelander, Discovery and Defender were driven by each competitor over the course of the event in individual vehicle based challenges which supplemented the adventure sports element.

The 2009 event was also highly anticipated by Land Rover enthusiasts because it intended to return to a more vehicle based event, with a stronger focus on the competitive off-road driving element in the vein of the original Camel Trophy events, rather than the multiple adventure sports which the previous Challenges had emphasized.

At the point the 2008/9 Challenge was cancelled selectors had narrowed the UK qualifiers down to a final four: Sarah Davies, Bruce Duncan, Mia Leijerstam and Andy Grieve. They would have represented the UK in the February 2009 International qualifier competing against the top four qualifiers from the other 17 competing nations. The four representatives from each country would have been reduced to two after the International qualifier, judged on their performance this final selection. The final two representatives from each country (one male and one female) would have gone on to represent their country in the Challenge proper in Mongolia, in June 2009.

Vehicles prepared for the 2003 G4:

Vehicles Used Number Prepared Stages Used By Competitors
Defender 31 (29 used on main challenge) Stage 2: South Africa
Range Rover 30 (28 used on main challenge) Stage 3: Australia
Discovery 2 62 (60 used on main challenge) Stage 4: USA (Las Vegas & Moab Desert)
Freelander I 30 (28 used on main challenge) Stage 1: USA (New York)

Vehicles prepared for the 2006 G4:

Vehicles Used Engine Number Prepared Stages Used By Competitors
Defender Td5 Diesel 110 CSW 31 (29 used on main challenge) None - Support Vehicle Only
Range Rover 4.4 V8 Petrol Vogue 24 (19 used on main challenge) None - Support Vehicle Only
Discovery 3 (LR3) 4.4 V8 Petrol HSE 39 (38 used on main challenge) Stages 3&4: Bolivia
Freelander I 2.5 V6 Petrol SE 15 (14 used on main challenge) Stage 3: Brazil
Range Rover Sport 4.4 V8 Petrol HSE 35 (34 used on main challenge) Stages 1&2: Thailand

Vehicles prepared for the 2009 G4:

Although the 2009 Challenge was cancelled a few vehicles were prepared and used as pre-event recce vehicles. The 2009 vehicles were decked out similarly to previous Challenge vehicles with the distinctive Tangiers Orange paintwork, but with new body decals emphasizing the G4 Challenge's new association with the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. At least two Defenders, two Discovery 3s (LR3s), two Freelander 2s (LR2) and one Range Rover were produced for the 2009 event.

G4 Vehicle Pictures: