Bowler Motors is taking the new Defender 90 rallying in the 2022 Defender Challenge. This rally series will see 12 teams face off in seven rounds across the UK, and it’s a one-make competition. Really, it’s more like one-make, one-model; the only machines competing in this class are the Bowler-modified Defenders. It’s spec racing, got it?
That’s alright, because the Defender 90 is objectively the best Land Rover, and it’s made even better by the British off-road modifications company, which specializes in Land Rover modification and motorsports. Bowler will produce all of the nearly identical rally Defenders that will run in the series.
The company says that it strips the base Defenders—which are powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines—down to bare, and installs FIA-spec roll cages in them. Bowler strengthens the front and rear subframes, and installs unique performance suspension developed with Fox. These modifications raise the Defenders by about an inch over stock. Bowler also throws on some tough-looking rally wheels.
The modifications don’t stop there, however, as the Defender’s are fitted additional rally lighting, electrical cut-off switches, and vehicle control systems which are built into and atop the stock electrical systems. The modifications are all very tidy and integrated, and they should be given the closeness between the Land Rover and Bowler. Jaguar Land Rover bought Bowler in 2019, and folded it into its Special Vehicle Operations.
Bowler says that the Defender Challenge is “designed to act as a feeder series for global rally-raid competitions, including the annual Dakar rally.”
So, both Bowler and its parent company get something out of the series, more or less, and we get to ogle at the Defenders that Bowler built. JLR is holding its own competition in the States, with the Land Rover U.S. Trophy Competition, where the Defender Trophy Editions will compete. If I had to pick between either one, I’d go with the Bowler hands down, because the Trophy Edition is based on the Defender 110.
The Bowler Defender Challenge is open to both seasoned and new competitors. The cost of entry into the series starts at £99,500, just shy of $139,000. That’s a lot of money, but it already includes the Bowler-built Defender 90. The rally calendar specifying the stage locations and dates will be up in September.