For the third consecutive year, the Land Rover Club of Slovenia arranged the traditional annual gathering of Land Rover Enthusiast in Slovenia. In following with the Billing example we used the motocross track and center at a local village called Rakek, some 50 km South of the Slovene capital city called Ljubljana ( pronounced briefly "Liu-bli-ana") where several different off road tracks and a large area for various accompanying activities are available. Following a few worrying days of bad weather, we gladly welcomed the dawn of a beautiful sunny morning on 18th May, which would be a sign as to how successful our lengthy preparation would be for THE event of the year 2003. In front of the newly built Land Rover center and dealership in Ljubljana, the first Landies started to emerge soon after 8.00 and their owners were rewarded with a very welcome cappuccino.

They received a complete agenda and information regarding the day's planned activities, the actual Club itself and a copy of the Land Rover Enthusiast Book&Shop. We were delighted to welcome our guest of honor, the British Ambassador in Slovenia, Mr. Hugh Mortimer with a Discovery and a representative from Solihull Mr. Alan Jones with a Freelander. Both vehicles were lent for the day by Land Rover Slovenia. Bang on time at 8.30, Igor (club member), know as the "Pathfinder" lead everyone from the court yard for the first of four convoys, each with 20 landies through the city of Ljubljana and into the lush green lanes of Slovenia towards Rakek ( where the main event was being held). We experienced some very dusty roads and some unexpected road closures and the drive almost became a navigation rally instead of a driving experience but fortunately nobody got lost.

Other participants and club members waited anxiously for them because we all wanted to see if we could break the current record of 98 cars in the 2000 event. After some anxious moments, the convoy finally arrived, our president Boštjan frantically ran around the ground to count them all and half an hour later he returned with a big smile on his face. There were 101 Land Rovers with some 300 people from 5 countries - Austria, Croatia, Great Britain, Belgium and Slovenia.There was something for everyone, drivers, families, enthusiast and children; a supervised off road track, promotional drives with a Discovery, Defender 110 and Freelander, family trial track, a children's corner with bouncy castle, mountain bike track, archery, various trade stands and the main Club stand together with a Land Rover Enthusiast corner. 

This year's phenomenal hit was the children's T-shirt with a logo on the front saying "When I grow up I'll become a Range Rover", some were also sold to some of the "thinner" mothers. Food and drink was available in a pleasant picnic area where RED BULL (energy drink supplier) provided a huge tent which allowed some welcome some shade as well as some funky music from their magnificent demo DEFENDER 110.

The first major event was the family trial, a first in Slovenia! We gathered 28 competitors, 6 of them in the Ladies category. The track had some unique and tricky features; a carpet made of old tires, driver change over, some narrow gates, a careful drive over a right side of a the motorbike balance, reverse parking and a 9 questions test which had to be filled out during the actual drive! The handicap was 3 minutes and the Ladies were excused of the test and driving over the balance as they drove alone. The competition soon heated up and many of the competitors forgot that this was a trial course and not a speed rally, which lead to some amazingly quick lap times but also some big mistakes. We had two serious interruptions when a Defender Fire tender 130 got wedged on the balance because we had inadvertently forgotten how long a 130-inch wheelbase could be, not too many of these long beasts in Slovenia! Recovering by itself But as you would have it, the firemen saved the day by using a chainsaw on the wooden plank to release the vehicle. A local hero with a Series III 88 caused the second commotion when one of his leaf springs got well and truly tangled up in carpet tire rope, he managed to drive a complete lap with them hanging on which caused a minor sand storm but a howl of laughter among the public. We allowed him to start again but this time he »picked up« only one tire, but this one was nasty and ended up ripping off the exhaust! 

 After a few hours of fun the race was over and it was proved once again that off roading is not rewarded by speed alone. Club member Slavka Pajk in her Freelander won the Lady's cup and father & son Mali in their Defender 90 SW won the Grand Prix of Rakek 2003.  

But this was not all. A two person team known as the "Commission" was appointed to vote for THE BEST Land Rover of Slovenia consisting of Mrs. Slavka Pajk and our "Englishman" Andy Hunt (who joined the club after his "Letter of the month" was spotted by a fellow enthusiast in February's issue of LR Enthusiast!) made their final decision: the best Old-timer was an immaculate green SIII 109, 1968 from Ljubljana, the best Off-roader was Defender 110 CSW Ecoturing and THE LAND ROVER OF 2003 was the Defender 130 Fire tender from the Fire brigade in Trnovo, a local town in Slovenia. We also have awarded some other extraordinary achievements such as the longest trip to Rakek (Jan from Belgium), the oldest and the youngest participants, the most adorable dog, the best archers and the quickest mountain bikers. Jan from Belgium Andy Hunt with his Lightweight

During the event we also raised some money and made a donation to the Children's Surgery Unit at the main Ljubljana hospital. As evening approached we presented it to a main representative at the Hospital. Thank you to all those who participated as well as the sponsors. See you all next year.

Marjan Cukrov & Andy Hunt


  Pictures from the event