Each of the £50,000 (+VAT) Bowler-built FIA T2-spec 2.2 TDCi Defender 90 hard tops features a substantial roll cage, fire extinguisher system, racing seats and six-point harnesses, lightweight bumpers, sills and steering guards, plus heavy duty Bilstein rally suspension with remote-reservoir dampers, new springs, anti-roll bars and bushes. A big brake package is optional. The engines are tweaked to give at least 175bhp (185bhp is an option) and 332lb ft.
They’re huge fun, as LRO discovered in our April 2014 issue, but the ultimate goal of the largely UK-based series is to develop drivers’ skills to enable them to tackle gruelling international rally raids such as the Dakar in South America, or the Africa Eco Race.
Three of the six venues in the 2015 calendar are all-new for the Defender Challenge, with an increased focus on hill rallies compared with 2014 – partly because last year’s drivers enjoyed them so much!
First up is a return to the Somerset Stages in April (last year’s round two), then a new venue for May’s Welsh Hill Rally (round four in 2014) – the Sweet Lamb Rally Complex that traditionally features in November’s Wales Rally GB round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
After a chance to soak up the high-octane atmosphere of the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed in June, competition restarts at Walters Arena in July for the second hill rally of the year, before taking in two more ‘new’ stage rallies: September’s Trackrod in Yorkshire, and November’s Tempest in Hampshire. As in 2014, the season finale is the Borders Hill Rally in Scotland at the end of November.
Land Rover Owner International is pleased to continue as the official media partner for the 2015 Defender Challenge by Bowler. All of the Defender 90s in this exciting rally series will carry Land Rover Owner International logos, and LRO will report from each round in the world’s best-selling Land Rover magazine and on LRO.com.
2015 Defender Challenge by Bowler calendar
Round 1 – April 18: Somerset Stages, Minehead (somersetstagesrally.com)
Round 2 – May 2-3: Welsh Hill Rally, Sweet Lamb (welshhillrally.com)
June 26-28: Goodwood Festival of Speed, West Sussex – non-competitive demonstration (grrc.goodwood.com)
Round 3 – July 18-19: Walters Hill Rally, Swansea, Wales
Round 4 – September 26: Trackrod Rally, Yorkshire (trackrodmotorclub.co.uk)
Round 5 – November 7: Tempest Rally, Aldershot, Hants (tempestrally.com)
Round 6 – November 21-22: Borders Hill Rally, Dumfries (scottish-hillrally.co.uk)
For more details, see www.bowlermotorsport.com