In October 2013, Land Rover announced its sponsorship of the 2014 Defender Challenge by Bowler, a one-make rally series operated by Bowler Motorsport designed to act as a feeder series to the annual Dakar rally and other global rally-raid competitions.
Since the 2014 Dakar is happening at the moment, we thought we’d mention this interesting bit of news again.
Continuing the strategic partnership announced in 2012 between Land Rover and Bowler Motorsport, the Defender Challenge will see competition-prepared Land Rover Defenders being used in a one-make, seven round, rally series taking place across the UK. The series will be regulated by the MSA (Motor Sports Association) and each Defender Challenge car will be FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) compliant enabling competitors to compete internationally.
The Defender Challenge will provide both experienced competitors, and those with no prior competition experience, a platform to gain the experience required to compete in world-class rally-raid events. For those with no or little experience, the series will offer a complete solution for gaining a licence, training and development and ultimately, competition experience.
The Defender Challenge car is a modified Defender 90 Hard Top utilising the factory-standard 2.2 litre diesel engine which has been uprated to 170 bhp by Bowler Motorsport. All Defender Challenge cars will run the standard 6-speed manual gearbox, controlled Kuhmo tyres and full MSA-approved roll cage and fire extinguisher system. Further aiding the accessibility of the series, all cars will remain road-legal and can be driven to events if required.
The provisional rounds outlined for the series will provide a mix of geographical accessibility together with exciting and demanding racing. To be confirmed in January 2014, the provisional list of rounds are:
|2nd March||Mid Wales Stages||Newtown, Wales|
|20th April||Somerset Stages||Minehead, Somerset|
|7th June||Dukeries Rally||Southwell, Nottinghamshire|
|19th / 20th July||Welsh Hill Rally||Walters Arena, Swansea|
|30th August||Woodpecker Stages||Ludlow, Shropshire|
|24th/ 25th October||Sunseeker Rallye||Poole, Dorset|
|Mid November||Scottish Hill Rally||Dumfries, Scotland|
Additionally, the Defender Challenge will provide a training and test day in February, as well as the option to compete in desert events in North Africa and the Middle East.
Mark Cameron, Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director said: “Land Rover is delighted to be supporting Bowler with the Defender Challenge in what is the next step in our long-term strategic partnership.
“The Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series will push the iconic Defender’s breadth of capability beyond established boundaries – it is the ideal accessible platform to provide customers with an entry-level rally series and for those who are considering entering world-stage rally-raids such as the Dakar.”
Drew Bowler, Managing Director, Bowler Motorsport said: “Rally customers coming to Bowler have changed – they’re not all experienced racers, but people looking for excitement and adventure, and an achievable path towards world-class events.
“We’re delighted to be offering this path in partnership with Land Rover and the MSA, and believe the format offers a new way to experience different rally disciplines in the UK and overseas, and prepare entrants for the rigours and realities of Rally Raid. We’ve really enjoyed developing the Defender Challenge car – it’ll be a really fun championship.
Xavier Gavory, Head of Competitors department – Sporting Coordinator for the ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation), the governing body for the annual Dakar rally said: “One of the major obstacles for people from the UK wishing to enter the Dakar has always been obtaining the necessary competition experience and a race licence. With the Defender Challenge by Bowler, there is at last a turnkey solution to that problem.
“Thanks to Bowler’s huge experience of competing on the Dakar and their widely recognised professionalism, we are confident we will be welcoming the first graduates of the Defender Challenge on our rally in the very near future.”
The Defender Challenge car will retail at £50,000 plus VAT and be supplied exclusively through Bowler Motorsport. Entry into the Defender Challenge will range between £10,000 and £14,000 depending on package selected.
Bowler Defender Challenge Car Specification
Based on a Land Rover Defender 90 Hard Top
|Engine:||2.2 Litre Diesel|
|Gearbox||Standard 6-speed manual|
|Power:||modified to 170 bhp by Bowler Motorsport|
- Full MSA-approved roll cage
- MSA-compliant fire extinguisher system
- Bowler Motorsport suspension system – including new dampers, springs roll bars and bushes
- Bowler Motorsport lightweight 18″ wheels with controlled Kuhmo tyres
- Racing seats and six-point harness
- Bowler Motorsport lightweight front bumper and sill protectors
- Intercom system
- Upgraded mud flaps and mounting system
- Bowler Motorsport revised door casings
- Full Defender Challenge livery
- Optional Bowler brake package
- Optional service package providing access to Bowler Works mechanics, logistic support plus vehicle storage between events
So what do you think of this bit of news? Is it something you’d like to see on South African soil as well?