Land Rover has acquired Bowler and launched a redesigned Defender, and on Wednesday, the automaker announced a rebooted Bowler Defender Challenge that features the new Defender as the basis.
The series is open to 12 teams, using an everyday Defender rally car prepared by Bowler. The rally car, based on the two-door Defender 90 equipped with the SUV’s 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, and peak output matches the 296-hp of the road-going model. That might not seem like much, but we’ll remind you that the previous Bowler Defender Challenge rally cars came with a 2.2-liter diesel with just 170 hp.
Naturally, there are plenty of performance upgrades designed for off-road racing. These include modifications to the suspension, underbody, cabin (including installing a roll cage), and custom 18-inch wheels wrapped in rally-spec all-terrain tires.
We’re not talking simple bolt-on here. Each SUV is first wholly stripped back to install the FIA-spec roll cage and add bracing for the front and rear subframes and strengthened mounts for the engine, radiator, and transmission. Also, there, increased cooling capacity for the transmission, plus new suspension with unique springs and custom Fox dampers. The front upper wishbones are also revised to suit a taller ride height.
The exterior also sports a new design thanks to a revised lower front fascia to incorporate further underbody protection and a new grille with increased airflow. The vehicle also features wheel arch extensions, rock sliders, a snorkel, and a roof spoiler.