New Bowler Defender Challenge is a rally-busting beast
Off-road performance gurus Bowler Motors have unboxed their gnarly new Defender Challenge off-road racer built to compete in the Challenge Series: a seven-round one-make UK-based rally championship beginning in March 2022.
Based on the Land Rover Defender 90 P300, the Defender Challenge is powered by an Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine kicking out 221kW and 650Nm. To optimise this unit's thermal management, the Bowler engineers fitted a modified front end that increases airflow to the cooling system. The latter also houses additional race-level lighting for improved vision at night and in poor weather conditions.
The Defender's already rigid chassis has also been beefed up to better cope with the hard knocks associated with competitive off-road racing. Both the front and rear subframes have been modified and given additional bracing for a bespoke performance suspension set-up. Designed in collaboration with Fox, it increases the vehicle's ride height by 25mm.
This purposeful stance is enhanced by a set of new Bowler rally-spec 18-inch wheels. Take a peek underneath the Defender Challenge and you'll spy full-length, side-to-side underbody protection panels to keep the drivetrain and engine safe from sharp terrain.
Hop into the stripped-out interior and you'll find a full FIA-standard roll cage plus a set of body-hugging competition race seats. While the standard gear selector has been repositioned for better reach, Bowler has also installed its custom-built column-mounted paddle shifters. Other highlights include a suite of electronic components, from fire protection and electrical cut-offs to additional lighting and vehicle control systems – all fully integrated into the Defender's existing electrical architecture.
Packages for the 2022 Challenge will start at £99,500 (roughly R2,042,150), which includes a Bowler-prepared Defender Challenge car, entry into the 2022 series and event support. Further options include training, series logistics and vehicle support. A range of accessories developed as part of this programme will be available later in the year.