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If you’d asked us to dream up our perfect one-make race series, we don’t think we could have done better than this.

Land Rover has today announced that next year will see the introduction of the Defender Challenge, a one-make championship for its ageing, indestructible off-roader.

Defenders. Many Defenders. All racing each other. There will be tilting. There may be some falling over.

The Defender Challenge series will be run by Bowler Motorsport - the firm of Wildcat fame. The race cars, however, won’t be full-fat Wildcats but rather lightly modified Defenders. It won’t be very fast. It will feel very fast.

The standard 2.2-litre diesel has been boosted to 170bhp, with Bowler fitting rally-spec suspension, racing bucket seats, an on-board intercom, a full MSA-approved roll cage and full dog-harness for your collie co-driver. We made the last one up.

Sadly we’ll be denied the sight of two dozen Defenders smashing lumps out of each other around, say, Lydden Hill circuit.

It’ll be gravel’n’mud timed stages instead. The Defender Championship is a rally championship designed to act as a feeder series to the Dakar rally, as Land Rover’s Mark Cameron explains. “It is the ideal platform to provide customers with an entry level rally series,” says Cameron, “and for those who are considering entering rally-raids such as the Dakar.”

Xavier Gavory of the ASO - the body that runs the Dakar - agrees. “One of the major obstacles for people from the UK wishing to enter the Dakar has always been obtaining the necessary competition experience and a race licence,” he says. “With the Defender Challenge, there is at last a turnkey solution.”

The Defender Challenge will cost £50,000 before tax, with entry to the seven-race annual series around £10,000 on top of that. And here’s the best bit: the Defender Challenge car is road-legal, and designed to be driven to races.

It’ll be lumpy, noisy and thoroughly uncomfortable. Just like the normal Defender, then.

What one-make race series would you like to see? The TopGear Hovervan Championship? The Hammerhead Eagle iThrust World Championship?

Sam Philip

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