At the close of stage 12 of the 2004 Dakar Rally, five of the eight Land Rover based Bowler Wildcat vehicles remain in the running, proving that these vehicles are based on one of the best 4x4s by far – the Land Rover Defender.
Leading the charge in what is rapidly becoming one of the toughest competitions in the Rally's history is Belgian driver Jackie Loomans, who protected his 14th place throughout stage 12 (out of 144 starters and 71 remaining), putting the Wildcat delegation several places ahead of many of the factory works teams from Japan and Germany.
Commenting on his progress up the field, Loomans said: "We don't look to the others, we don't look at the standings – we just do our own thing. We have only suffered a puncture so far, and if our luck continues in this way for the remaining five stages this can be an excellent Dakar for us."
Stage 12 also saw the Belgian awarded the 'Total Fair Play' trophy, for donating his spare tyre to a fellow competitor who was only two places behind the Wildcat at the time.
The Bowler Wildcat is a purpose built race vehicle designed to compete in top level off-road racing events using standard-build Land Rover components from the Defender and Discovery models. It is designed and built by a small Derbyshire company, Bowler Off-Road, which is supported by Land Rover.Published 14 January 2004