• a5ba36c1-1269-4214-b40f-926c8c7dcb92 eb562afe-abc3-421e-807c-1f823fa91720 47ac1490-1936-4810-b2f5-7b0eef1fa1f1 e57f356f-7480-4437-bdb8-3c8a17ad02faFirst race of the Defender one-make rally series to take place on Sunday 2 March as part of Mid Wales Stages rally event in Newtown, Wales
  • All teams to race with Bowler-modified Land Rover Defender 90 vehicles
  • New rally series will help pave the way for aspiring Dakar rally raid competitors

Whitley, Thursday 20 February, 2014:  The inaugural round of the Defender Challenge by Bowler race series is set to place on Sunday 2 March as part of the Viking Motorsport/Links Electrical Mid Wales Stages rally event in Newtown, Wales.

The new rally series, managed by Bowler Motorsport and supported by Land Rover, is a UK-based Defender one make rally series comprising of seven thrilling rounds of racing held across the UK in 2014.

Competitors will face a demanding blend of hill rallies and stage rallies spread across Mid and South Wales, Somerset, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire and Dorset, before the final round takes place in Scotland in mid-November.  Entrants will also have the option of competing in additional rallies in Europe and North Africa alongside the Bowler Works team.

The series caters for experienced competition drivers (both off road and circuit) and those with no prior competition experience.  The ultimate aim of the series is to provide a route for teams to progress to top rally raid competitions such as the Dakar and the Africa Race, a pathway previously non-existent for drivers and teams aspiring to compete in the world’s toughest races.

All competitors will drive Bowler-prepared Land Rover Defender 90 vehicles that have been expertly modified for safety, performance and durability.  The modifications to the competing Land Rover Defender 90 vehicles include a full MSA / FIA certified roll cage, fire extinguisher system, racing seats and harnesses, light-weight Bowler wheels, a full Bowler racing suspension system with bespoke springs and heavy duty racing dampers and an engine tune to 175hp that delivers 450Nm of torque.

A total of up to 15 cars will compete in this year’s series and each team must take part in a minimum of five of the seven rounds, with their top five placings counting towards the final standings. Competing in round one of the Defender Challenge by Bowler are drivers with experience of races such as the Dakar, the Dubai Desert Challenge, and drivers for whom this will be their first stage rally. For one driver, Damian Taft, this will be his first motorsport event since representing the UK in the 1994 Camel Trophy.

Drew Bowler, founder Bowler Motorsport, said: “We’re really excited to get the Championship underway and to begin the journey, which for some drivers, will lead towards Dakar. We’ve enjoyed developing the Defender, and are looking forward to racing at such a great venue with such a strong WRC history, and working with a great organisational team and motor club.”

The Defender Challenge will be a ‘class’ within existing rally events where total entries of all classes will be between 80 and 130 cars (including the Defender Challenge cars). These events vary in distance and duration, but all will give the team (driver, navigator, service crew) a great experience of national level motorsport. Completion of the series will gain the driver their National B rally license, and attendance at some of Bowlers overseas races will allow this to be converted into the International license required for events such as the Dakar.

The first round of the rally takes place in Newtown, Mid-Wales, as part of the Viking Motorsport/Links Electrical Mid Wales Stages rally event.  As well as the Defender Challenge by Bowler series, a range of other cars will compete in different classes including the WWRS RAC Rally Championship, Pirelli MSA Welsh Stage Rally Championship and Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.  This year’s Mid Wales Stages racing will include a town centre start in Newtown, before racers progress over 55 miles incorporating Pikes Peak, Myherin, and Hafren before finishing back in Newtown’s Broad Street.

Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd at each Defender Challenge by Bowler event as well as 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the overall championship. Prizes for best prepared car, most improved driver and Spirit of the Championship will also be awarded.

People wishing to find out more information about the Defender Challenge by Bowler should visit:


Defender Challenge by Bowler race schedule

The provisional rounds are as follows:

2 March Mid Wales Stages Newtown, Mid-Wales
12 April Somerset Stages Minehead, Somerset
7 June Dukeries Rally Southwell, Nottinghamshire
19/20 July Welsh Hill Rally Walters Arena, Swansea
30 August Woodpecker Stages Ludlow, Shropshire
24/25 October Rallye Sunseeker Poole, Dorset
22/23 November Borders Hill Rally Dumfries, Scotland

About the Defender Challenge by Bowler 

The Defender Challenge by Bowler is 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 competitions.

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 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.

About Land Rover

Land Rover is supporting the Defender Challenge by Bowler series.  Since 1948 Land Rover has been manufacturing authentic 4x4s that represent true breadth of capability across the model range. Defender, Freelander, Discovery, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover and Range Rover Evoque each define the world’s 4×4 sectors. Land Rover products are currently sold in approximately 180 global markets.

About Bowler Motorsport

Bowler is a market leader in the production of racing and high performance all terrain vehicles, and has been since 1985. The UK pioneers in Rally Raid cars, Bowler has continually competed at the highest levels and, during this time, has designed, developed and produced some of the most innovative, durable and exciting all terrain vehicles ever seen.

The Bowler Wildcat, Nemesis and now the EXR have all been proven in the toughest race in the world – the Dakar. Each evolution of Bowler has refined the knowledge and experience gained from the previous one.

Based in Derbyshire in the UK, Bowler uses both technology and craftsmanship to deliver vehicles with style, strength, performance and an unrivalled spirit of adventure.

About the Dakar Rally:

The Dakar, an incomparable human adventure whose history has been built in the finest deserts of the planet, is amongst the major sporting challenges of our era. Both a race and a test of navigational skills, it involves not only the leading riders and drivers of the rally raid discipline, but also amateur competitors, who often take part to make their dream come true or to rise to a challenge, behind the handlebars or steering wheel of their bike, quad, car or truck. Fifty nationalities come together each year for this mixture of competition and solidarity whose television coverage is seen by a billion viewers in 190 countries.

The Dakar Rally (or simply ‘The Dakar’, formerly known as ‘The Paris–Dakar’) is an annual Dakar Series rally raid off-road race, organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race originated in 1978, a year after racer Thierry Sabine got lost in the desert and decided that it would be a good location for a regular rally event. Originally, the rally was from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal. However, due to politics and other factors, the course, including origin and destination, has varied over the years. After cancellation of the rally in 2008, the 2009 Dakar Rally was run in South America (Argentina and Chile) – the first time the race took place outside of Europe and Africa. It has stayed in South America since 2009. The race is open to amateur and professional entries with amateurs typically making up about 80% of participants.

Despite its name it is an off-road endurance race, called a rally-raid rather than a conventional rally – the terrain the competitors traverse is much tougher and the vehicles used by teams and individuals are true off-road vehicles rather than the modified on-road vehicles used in rallies. The majority of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks among others.

The recent Dakar 2014 course stretched over 9000km of the world’s toughest terrain, beginning in Rosario, Argentina on 5th January, with the course winding north through Argentina, into Bolivia and finishing in Valparaiso, Chile on 18 January.

Scroll to Top