Getting a Defender airborne like this is not recommended at the pay-and-play. Zack de Lange and friends make some serious mods before catching air
Go to The Pecanwood Oktoberfest in South Africa and you will get to see Landies leaping as never before. Kwa-Zulu Natal Land Rover Owners Club has been involved in the local outdoor festival (pecanwoodoktoberfest.com) for three years, developing a 4x4 course from scratch so they could put on a show for festival goers and even take them for rides. But the highlight of the event, says Zack de Lange, is when they make a Defender fly. “I purposely built the ramp so that I could use it to jump,” says Zack, owner of the Defender. “Each year I have tweaked the jump, pushing the limits and, of course, reaching greater heights. “I am continuously tweaking the suspension on my Landy, Spyker. Spyker was originally an early Td5 Defender but before I got it, the car had been converted to a Ford 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo diesel – the predecessor to the Puma motor. Over the years I have made different custom mods to my suspension, mainly to improve articulation. “For this jump, however, I built in custom, long-travel, hydraulic bump stops. I also added polyurethane bump stoppers to the diff to work with the existing rubber bump stops helping to protect the shocks, springs and the rest of the Defender. The car has 35x12.5 wide tyres on 15 inch rims.” What makes a great jump? Surviving the landing so that you can do it again, says Zack: “The key is not to go too fast. However, I am not exactly sure how fast I am going because my focus is more on my gears.
I start my jump in second gear low range, about 15 meters away from the apex of the jump. I quickly shift to third and then, just before the ramp itself, I go to fourth and put my foot flat, keeping it there until I hear the revs shoot up at which point I try to keep the revs consistent, slowly pushing the clutch in. “I find that if I put my foot on the brakes while in the air it rotates the whole vehicle forward, dropping the nose faster which can be useful if applied at the right time. But mainly at that point, it's all about avoiding any major strain on the drivetrain with the point of impact by having the clutch all the way in.” It doesn't always go perfectly: “With this year's jump, I did not have a chance to test the newly-tweaked ramp so it was not ideal when it kicked me up more than I expected and at a slight angle. So I did land heavily on the driver side first which made the hydraulic stopper slide up in its mount, pushing the bonnet up slightly...” Maybe some wings would help. We're sure Zack must have some chequerplate off-cuts doing nothing...WHERE TO GO?Check out all the outdoor fun at the Pecanwood Oktoberfest on their website (see left) including trail runs, MTB races and beer. Lots of beer.
Pictures: Michelle Anne De Lange and Andrea Passoni