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Bowler launches Land Rover Defender rally car for new Challenge race series

The Defender-only Challenge series will be open to racing veterans and newbies alike.

Bowler Motors

British manufacturer Bowler Motors has been turning Land Rover and Range Rover SUVs into mean off-road racing machines for decades, and its latest creation is based on the new Land Rover Defender. Bowler's awesome Defender rally car has been purpose-built for a new Bowler Challenge Championship race series that will kick off in 2022.

The rally car is built off the two-door Defender 90 that recently launched in the US. It uses the Defender's base turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, which makes 300 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Bowler fitted the Defender with upgraded subframes, a custom suspension setup from Fox that raises the SUV by nearly an inch, 18-inch wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich off-road tires, upgraded underbody components, new front grilles for better cooling and a different rear spoiler with additional lights. The rear-mounted spare tire has been ditched, too.

The stripped interior has an FIA-spec roll cage.

Bowler Motors

Additionally, the interior has been almost completely stripped out and fitted with an FIA-spec roll cage. (The Defender's center console and touchscreen infotainment system are intact, though.) There's a pair of racing bucket seats with five-point harnesses, new carbon-fiber paddle shifters and racing side windows. Bowler also gave the rally car a number of electronic components ranging from the lighting and vehicle control systems to the fire protection and electrical cut-offs, all of which are integrated into the Defender's existing electrical architecture. 

Bowler says the 2022 Challenge will take place across seven courses in the UK, though no dates or locations have been announced yet. There will be 12 entrants, and Bowler says the competition is open to anyone from veteran racers to complete newbies. Bowler will even assist new racers in getting proper training and the necessary licenses before competing. The Challenge series will serve as a testbed for the Defender before it competes in global rally-raid events.

The Bowler Defender starts at £99,500, which converts to around $140,000. That includes the price of the donor car plus all the modifications, entry into the race series and support for the events. Buyers can also opt for driver training, logistical help and vehicle support at extra cost.