Round 2 European Tata Elxsi Defender Rally Series by Bowler Baja – Gatinais Rally
Posted on 28 April 2023
Gatinais Rally takes place in the heart of France, in the Loiret part of the Centre-Val de Loire region and is a popular fixture on the French motorsport calendar attracting drivers and spectators from across the Europe. The first Cross-Country Rally France Championship was held in 1974 and since then has been an annual event bringing together drivers in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere to compete on off-road rally stages mainly consisting of unpaved tracks and paths.
Organised by the Rallye Club Gatinais (RCG), which was founded in 1979, the club has a rich history of organising motorsport events in the region, and the Gatinais Rally is one of its flagship events. The courses are composed of special events (ES) and connecting sectors that cover a total distance of over 100 miles, over half of which are competitor stages. The rally usually attracts over 100 competitors whose vehicles range from classic and historic rally cars, buggies, 4x4s, SSV (Side by Side Vehicle) in 4- or 2-wheel drive, categorised into a variety of classes according to criteria set by the FFSA regulations.
Bowler is delighted to be taking part this year as part of the International Baja Tata Elxsi Defender Series by Bowler 2023 and the teams are looking forward to competing in this challenging event, but this round will see a stark contrast from the Welsh mountains of round 1. The stages are demanding and technical, with many twists and turns, elevation changes, and narrow sections that require precision driving guaranteed to challenge and thrill the Bowler teams. Now in their second year, the Bowler drivers already have the 2022 Championship under their belts and will be leaning on the experience and expert training they have received from the Bowler Motorsport team over the last 12 months to really push themselves forward this year.
Crews will undertake recces of the stages on the Friday, followed by technical verification of the cars and the traditional Parc Ferme in the town for the cars prior to the Saturday start.
Two stages on the Saturday repeated three times will give the crews and Defenders a real test of speed and terrain variation. Expansive open farmland is quickly exchanged for forays through woodland with even the odd Tarmac section thrown in, to test every element of driving skill and control.
The crews return to service after every stage, but with time tight there will no margin for error out on the course. The evening of the first day’s competition sees another Parc Ferme meaning the entire service crew will need to be on their game to complete any repairs prior to losing access to the cars overnight.
Sunday format covers two new stages with more fast open country racing interspersed with technical tree lined sections and ditches big enough to trap car whole in! After the two days our crews will have had the true Gallic Cross country experience and will no doubt be looking forward to round 3 at Baja Lorca, where the heat and distances really get cranked up for them.
The Bowler team will be supporting each car, with a dedicated technician, comprehensive spares support electrical specialists, catering, and a depth of experience from the entire crew from international cross-country events.
The Gatinais Rally is not just about the competition, however, and is known for its stunning scenery, with stages taking place in the forests, vineyards, and countryside of the Loiret region. It is also a major social event and celebration of motorsport, with spectators coming from across the region to watch the action and enjoy the festivities in the rally village, located in the centre of the town, which offers a range of entertainment, food and drink stalls and live music. So, if you are in the Loiret region and want to support the Bowler team, we’d love to see you there!
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