Defender Rally Series by Bowler - 2023 UK Championship Launch
  • Unique Defender production-based championship from off-road performance specialists Bowler
  • Both RHD and LHD vehicles available for the first time due to international demand
  • UK Championship is based over seven rounds incorporating both Gravel and Hill Rallies throughout Scotland, England and Wales
  • Drivers receive dedicated race support and infrastructure from highly experienced Bowler Works crew
  • 2023 rally specification enables progression to international competitions
  • Applications now open for 2023 season of competition – visit for more details

Following a hugely successful first season of exciting and close fought competition, off-road performance specialist Bowler has today announced the Defender Rally Series for 2023.

The Defender has proven to be an incredibly tough, durable and capable platform from which to grow the series in the UK and beyond. Designed for novices and competition veterans alike, the Defender Rally Series by Bowler consists of 12 teams taking part in nine events, including seven competitive rounds in identical Defender rally cars.

After the first private round, fully supported teams participate in six rounds of public events in which they will develop both the driving and organisational skills required of open competitive motorsport.

Building on the popularity of the Tata Elxsi Bowler Defender Challenge for 2022, the Defender Rally Series by Bowler has been specifically designed to offer entrants the chance to gain rally motorsport experience and know-how, facilitating progression to rally-raid events. Bowler can offer the necessary support and training enabling entrants to achieve the correct licensing in order to compete in the UK and internationally.

The UK Championship provides an inclusive team atmosphere with full technical support on hand at every event. The professional presence of the team, with comprehensive on-event spares support and team hospitality area creates a true paddock within the paddock and underlines Bowler’s unique proposition and commitment to the sport. As a result, the camaraderie among current teams has been exceptional while still remaining highly competitive, with demand continuing to grow within the UK and overseas.

Packages for the 2023 UK Championship will start at £108,334 (plus VAT). This includes purchase and full ownership of a brand-new, fully converted rally car, based upon the latest road registered model year Defender 90 P300, management through nine events, including seven competitive championship rounds with full works support consisting of a dedicated team of race technicians, event hospitality, professional guidance, access to a fully stocked spares container and support unit, plus training. Competition organiser race entry fees are additional to the Bowler package.

A number of additional support options are available, these include Arrive and Drive whereby the rally car is entirely managed by Bowler for the duration of the 2023 UK Championship; cars are professionally managed, cleaned, inspected, repaired where required, stored between competitions and delivered to each round ready to race. Rounds take place in remote areas around the UK so this option is particularly attractive for time poor or international drivers. Further options include licence development and bespoke training delivered by a professional rally driver.

Calum McKechnie, Bowler General Manager, comments: “The 2022 Defender Bowler Championship has exceeded expectations on all fronts. As we anticipated, the latest generation Defender has proven to be a highly capable and extremely tough rally car which continues to surprise and thrill anyone who has experienced it. It has delivered incredibly close competition amongst the teams whilst still competing aggressively against the competition in the open rounds. Above all, the team camaraderie and relationships formed around the Championship have been a highlight which has attracted many new interested customers.”

The provisional 2023 UK Championship calendar is as follows*:

Round              Date                Venue                                      Discipline

1                      4/5 March       Walters Arena Comp               Safari

2                      15 April           Rally Nuts Stages                    Stage Rally (Gravel)

3                      June                 TBD                                         Comp Safari

4                      8 July               Nicky Grist Stages Rally          Stage Rally (Gravel)

5                      22/23 Sept      Trackrod Rally Stage               Rally (Gravel)

6                      28 October      Cambrian Rally                       Stage Rally (Gravel)

7                      November       TBD                                         Hill Rally/Stage Rally (Gravel)

*All dates and events are to be confirmed.

Dave Marsh, Bowler Head of Motorsport, comments: “We knew from our initial test programme with a pre-production Defender we had the basis of a rally car that would deliver great poise and stability under race conditions – essential for new drivers but still bringing great capability for experienced drivers. The big test was always going to be whether our 2022 competitors agreed, the answer has been an unequivocal yes! It’s been fantastic to see the cars relative performance against very serious competition in the diverse range of events selected for the Championship.”

The 2023 UK Championship will benefit even further from Bowler’s pedigree and experience which has helped this year’s racers hone their skills. The 2023 season will be even more keenly fought in a car that turns heads wherever it goes. Bowler is pleased to offer this opportunity which provides unique challenges, adventures and experiences that embody the Bowler team spirit and pedigree.

Base Defender Specification:

  • Model Defender 90 P300 SE
  • Engine 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
  • Power/torque 221kW/400Nm
  • TransmissionEight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-100km/h 6.7 seconds
  • Top speed 192km/h (limited when in Bowler Mode)
  • Economy10.4l/100km
  • CO2 260g/km
  • Fuel Capacity 90 litres
  • Weight 2,065kg
  • Length 4,583mm
  • Width 2,105mm
  • Height 1,974mm
  • Wheelbase 2,587mm
  • Turning Circle 11m

The Defender Bowler rally car is based on a production car which includes driver convenience features such as InControl Security, Sat Nav, Climate Control and Telematics as part of the donor spec. Hopefully drivers won’t ever need to use reverse cameras but the aircon can be a blessing in hot summer rounds.

Defender Bowler Specification (modifications from base)

Structural Body and Chassis:

  • Monocoque bracing – minimises body movement and supports underbody protection
  • Full internal roll cage integrated with body and linking suspension mounts
  • Internal spare wheel mount integrated to roll cage
  • Rally-spec gearbox cross member
  • Stiffened gearbox mounts
  • Strengthened engine mounts
  • Braced front and rear subframes
  • Front suspension turret brace
  • Rear turret brace
  • Strengthened radiator mounts
  • Adapted chassis and subframe mounts


  • Cooling – revised to meet needs of competition use
  • Increased transmission cooling capacity
  • Bowler Sports exhaust system
  • Bowler 18-inch motorsport wheels with increased strength
  • All-terrain tyres
  • Bespoke suspension design with modified subframes, new springs
  • Bespoke Fox dampers
  • Race steering wheel
  • High level air intake
  • Front upper wishbone revised to reflect new ride height geometry


  • ECU system integration with race box
  • ABS/DSC – rally control modifications
  • New integrated wiring harness for new components
  • New rally-spec facia
  • Navigator control unit for lights/washer/horn


  • High-level rear marker lights
  • Door and rear windows replaced with polycarbonate
  • Alpine Light replaced by aluminium panel
  • Race sports seats with specific race seat mounts
  • Five-point race harness
  • Integrated and hand-held fire suppression
  • Electrical cut-off switches – internal and external
  • Complete removal of all airbag systems


  • Front bumper adapted to take new underbody protection
  • Bowler front grille with increased air flow
  • Rear roof spoiler with extended profile and integrated additional lighting
  • Front and rear wing claddings to meet new underbody protection
  • Wheel arch extensions utilising accessory fitment
  • Door lowers – protection pieces on shortened doors

Rally Function:

  • Additional bonnet-mounted windscreen washers – to deal with rally levels of water splash
  • Front driving lights for increased night driving illumination
  • Rally-spec mudflaps
  • Full underbody protection system – 6mm aluminium reinforced design
  • New gear shift position – optimised to sports seats
  • Column-mounted gear shift paddles – unique to Bowler
  • Rear door manual release mechanism
  • Wheel arch lines – increased strength to meet rally requirements

About Bowler

Bowler, founded in 1985, is based in Belper, Derbyshire and pioneered the production of dedicated off-road competition cars in the UK. 

It has achieved international success in rally raid events, having previously participated in the Dakar Rally, British Hill Climb Championship and French Baja with their Tomcat, Wildcat & Nemesis models, all of which were based on the heritage Defender 90 and 110.

Bowler provides its customers with competition racing events, to provide them with the driving skills and technical competition knowledge necessary to undertake international rally raid events.

Bowler has become synonymous with conversions and modifications of Defender models, designed to enhance power, handling, braking and comfort. These can be tailored to suit individual requirements and desires, including bespoke engineering requirements.

Since its inception Bowler has had a close affiliation with Land Rover, which was formalised with a brand partnership in 2012 that led to the creation of the popular Defender Challenge by Bowler rally series in 2014 - 2016.

The business was acquired by Jaguar Land Rover Group in December 2019 and forms part of Special Vehicle Operations.

Bowler’s Motorsport Heritage:

1985    Drew Bowler begins making and selling competitive safari and trials cars from his home in Derbyshire

1991    Drew Bowler wins ARC National Comp Safari

2000    Bowler first competes in world-famous Dakar Rally in Africa, and races in central Europe

2004    Bowler vehicle wins British Hill Rally Championship

2005    Bowler's largest ever Dakar entry means it’s the second largest factory team, and has      highest finisher rate

2006    Bowler vehicles win both the British Baja National Championship and the French Baja

2012    Bowler agrees formal brand partnership with Land Rover across sponsorship, marketing and engineering

2014    Defender Challenge launched to prepare competitors for Dakar. Bowler moves into new production facility

2016    CSP development begins. Company founder Drew Bowler sadly passes away in November

2018    Bowler vehicles claim first, second and fourth overall on Tuareg Rallye

2019    Jaguar Land Rover acquires Bowler

2020    Bowler granted licence by Jaguar Land Rover to produce road-biased Defender Station Wagon – codenamed CSP 575

Bowler is granted use of the Defender name under licence from Jaguar Land Rover.

For more information, please visit

For further information on entry to the 2023 Defender Rally Series by Bowler, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +44 (0)1773 824111