The Defender Challenge rally car is a Defender like no other. It has been designed and engineered to compete in a one-make rally championship operated by renowned Land Rover partner Bowler Motorsport.
The seven-race season begins in March and is designed to act as a feeder series to the annual Dakar rally, as well as other global rally-raid competitions.
The Defender Challenge car is a modified Defender 90 Hard Top. It is powered by the factory fitted 2.2-litre diesel engine which has been uprated to 170bhp and 450Nm by Bowler Motorsport and mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The car is completely road-legal but fitted with a MSA-approved roll cage and fire extinguisher system and comes with an MSA log book, ready to race.
Additional specification includes a bespoke Bowler Motorsport suspension system designed in conjunction with Bilstein, which includes new dampers, spring roll-bars and bushes; Bowler Motorsport body kit and lightweight 18-inch wheels; and two racing seats each with a six-point harness.
Each Defender costs £50,000+VAT and an entry to the 2014 series is £10,000+VAT. An optional service and logistics package is also available for competitors who simply want to turn up and race.
A race-ready example of the Defender Challenge car will be on display at the Bilstein stand at the Autosport International Show, at The NEC, Birmingham from 9-12 January.
Jon Chester, Brand Director at Bowler, commented: “Since we announced the ‘Defender Challenge by Bowler’ series at the end of October, the response has been amazing. The grid of 15 competitor cars for 2014 is already more than half-full. The championship has attracted a wide range of competitors, from those with no prior racing experience to existing rally teams and those with GT3 experience. We’re also really pleased to have an ex Camel Trophy competitor signed up. It’ll be a really fun championship and we look forward to working with and supporting all of the entrants.”
Land Rover recently announced its sponsorship of an Race2Recovery entry into the 2014 series. The group of severely injured soldiers who made history as the first disabled rally team to enter and complete the Dakar rally in 2013, will use the challenge as a grass roots training route for new injured personnel joining the team.