Land Rover has announced that it will sponsor a new one-make rally series – the 2014 Defender Challenge by Bowler. As the name implies, the championship will be operated by Derbyshire-based Bowler Motorsport, and has been conceived as a stepping stone for drivers who want to take on the legendary Dakar rally.
All Defender Challenge cars are road-legal 90 Hardtops that have been tweaked by Bowler. The standard 2.2-litre diesel is carried over, albeit with power hiked by 50bhp to 170bhp, and torque boosted by 90Nm to 450Nm. All cars use the standard six-speed manual gearbox, too.
Each car is fitted with an FIA-approved roll cage, Kumho control tyres and lightweight 18-inch wheels. The car also features a Bowler Motorsport suspension system, including new dampers, springs roll bars and bushes.
The announcement continues a strategic partnership between Land Rover and Bowler that began in 2012. The race series will be regulated by the MSA and each Defender Challenge car will be FIA compliant, enabling competitors to compete internationally.
Mark Cameron, Land Rover Global Brand Experience Director said: “The Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series will push the 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've really enjoyed developing the Defender Challenge car – it'll be a really fun championship.”
The Defender Challenge car costs £50,000 plus VAT, and will be supplied exclusively through Bowler Motorsport. Entry into the Defender Challenge will range between £10,000 and £14,000 depending on whether you elect for a service package that provides access to Bowler mechanics, logistics support and vehicle storage between events.
The calendar will be confirmed in January 2014, but the provisional dates are listed below. Bowler will also hold a training and test day in February, as well as the option of competing in desert events in North Africa and the Middle East.
|2nd March||Mid Wales Stages||Newtown, Wales|
|20th April||Somerset Stages||Minehead, Somerset|
|7th June||Dukeries Rally||Southwell, Notts|
|19th/20th July||Welsh Hill Rally||Walters Arena, Swansea|
|30th August||Woodpecker Stages||Ludlow, Shropshire|
|24th/25th October||Sunseeker Rally||Poole, Dorset|
|Mid-November||Scottish Hill Rally||Dumfries, Scotland|