There were no promises of perfect weather, clean socks, or anything remotely easy. The year was 1996, and three-person teams representing Land Rover North America dealerships were assembled for an event called TReK. Though the 1,000-mile excursions were not re-created, TReK aimed to borrow from the venerable Camel Trophy’s skills challenges and build a two-day event that not only showcased the capabilities of Land Rover vehicles, but also the ability of the invited Land Rover retailers to come together as teams and put the rigs and their driving skills to use. Challenges included mentally and physically engaging activities mixed with precision driving and teamwork, and every team drove a similarly outfitted Land Rover vehicle.
Jump forward 23 years, and TReK has returned to North America, just ahead of the much-anticipated ’20 Land Rover Defender hitting showrooms—and Four Wheeler was invited to the competition. Like TReK competitions of the past, each team was responsible for outfitting a vehicle with similar aftermarket parts. Our vehicle for the challenge was a ’20 Land Rover Discovery, and it was sitting stone-stock in the MotorTrend Group Tech Center. With little time to build the Discovery and get it and our intrepid team to the TReK event in Asheville, North Carolina, we dug right into the project. Follow along for a look into how we prepared our Discovery for competition, and be sure to check back as we bring the muddy, brain-bending action to you from the TReK event in an upcoming issue of Four Wheeler!
We looked to the Proud Rhino rocksliders from Lucky 8 Off Road Equipment for protecting our Discovery’s rocker panels. The Proud Rhino sliders offered bolt-on protection and extended far enough away from the vehicle’s sides to keep them clear of offending rocks and trees, even giving occupants a helper step upon entry and exit.
Before we could install the sliders, the Discovery’s mudflaps were temporarily removed, along with the plastic trim along the rocker panels. We used a cutoff wheel to cut the plastic trim to make sure it didn’t interfere with the new sliders.
Positioning the sliders beneath the Discovery was made easier with a pair of floor jacks. With all the holes lined up, it only took nimble fingers and a few twists of the ratchet to secure the new armor. The smooth undersides of the sliders cloaked the vehicle’s softer parts and also gave us convenient points from which to lift the Discovery on the shop lift.
If we told you all that was required to lift a Discovery 2 inches were four pieces of black-anodized aluminum, you might give us a quizzical stare. The folks at Proud Rhino must hear that often, because the company’s 2-inch lift kit is, in fact, comprised of just four pieces. The aluminum arms replace factory height sensors in each of the Discovery’s wheelwells and are said to “trick” the Disco’s airbags into thinking the air supply is low, therefore maintaining pressure in the bags and a constant 2-inch lift. We reached into the wheelwells and popped off the factory sensors (shown on the left) one at a time, and replaced each one with a Proud Rhino extended sensor (shown on the right). No tools are necessary.
Turning attention toward the Discovery’s front end, we began the disassembly process required to install the winch. For anyone planning on trying this at home, organization is key—removing the front plastic and wheelwell liners required the removal of a staggering number of plastic and metal fasteners.
Proud Rhino sent us a pre-clearanced front core support that both made space for the winch and allowed us to relocate the Discovery’s sensor block. The support bolted directly in the place of the factory unit.
Our Warn Zeon 10-S fit smoothly onto the Proud Rhino winch tray; the only challenge was fitting the pair into the Discovery’s front end, which required some teamwork and precise movements of the transmission jack.
Though the Discovery came from the factory with some respectable skidplate coverage, it never hurts to add more protection. We fastened down and spooled the winch, attached the fairlead and Factor 55 UltraHook, and then began on the Proud Rhino bash plate. The 3/4-inch aluminum interfaced perfectly with the factory bolt holes and was a simple addition.
The Proud Rhino A-bar was designed to bolt to the Discovery’s front and served two purposes. First, it was an added layer of protection, and second, it was a mounting place for our pair of Baja Designs LP6 LED lights.
Land Rover’s incredibly versatile roof rack was next on the docket, coming with everything we needed to affix the system to the Discovery’s roof. After spacing the rack’s braces, we added the jerrycan holders from Front Runner Vehicle Outfitters, along with Proud Rhino’s spare tire mount, shovel, and shovel mount; Hi-Lift jack and mount; Tred Pro traction boards and mounts; and a quartet of Baja Designs LP9 LED lights.
To keep our immense payload of adventure gear where it belonged and away from the heads of the Discovery’s passengers, we quickly bolted up Land Rover’s luggage partition. Positioning the system was as simple as folding down the rear seats, aligning the system with existing hardware in the cargo area, and attaching our fire extinguisher.
With all our components secured to the Discovery, we headed off into the dirt to give the rig its shakedown run before the Land Rover TReK event. Even though we pointed the Discovery through some questionably loose and rocky conditions, the 275/55R20 Goodyear DuraTracs kept us moving forward.