We’re delighted to announce the appointment of Alex Cole, winner of this year’s international Tuareg Rally, as Bowler’s new Test & Development Driver.
Bowler vehicles, from the original Tomcat through to the Wildcat, Nemesis, EXR and present day Bulldog, are renowned for their sublime all terrain performance and capabilities. To achieve this earned reputation, each new iteration of Bowler vehicle over the last three decades has undergone robust testing and development to ensure individual components, and the overall car package, are ready for anything our customers and the extreme racing environments can (and do) throw at them. Our product development is uncompromising, ensuring Bowler cars and specialist vehicles are continually improved with competitive and innovative updates.
Whilst Alex has been part of the Bowler story for several years, his appointment demonstrates Bowler’s continued commitment to the testing and development of Bowler’s next-generation vehicles and in house designed and engineered parts and accessories.
Initially developed in 2016 as a prototype vehicle for Bowler’s new Cross Sector Platform (CSP), the Bulldog quickly earned itself international appeal, with Alex powering the mono-turbo V6 diesel powered version to victory in this year’s Tuareg Rally with navigator partner Emma Osman. His initial focus is to further develop the CSP in international rally raid competition and he will compete in a number of races throughout 2019 as Bowler’s official factory driver. Engineering developments, performance and handling knowledge will also be applied to the whole Cross Sector Platform (CSP) for its range of different applications and uses.
Having developed an interest in 4×4 rally racing and modifying of vehicles for racing from the age of 17, Alex has almost three decades of experience behind the wheel of a range of 4×4 off road racing vehicles and competing on the rally scene in the UK and internationally.
Cars have been a feature and passion of Alex’s life since a young age, and at 21 he founded Coles Automotive with the help of his father Jim, a retired pilot, originally specialising in vintage car restoration. They soon outgrew their ‘workshop’ – a shed on a farm in the UK’s South Downs – and moved to their current Edburton premises near Brighton, where they built the business literally brick by brick. More than three decades on, Coles Automotive is a thriving servicing, sales and car maintenance business with over 3,000 customers.
Throughout this time, Alex’s rally racing career has run in parallel. At the age of 17 he converted an old farm Land Rover into an off road racing machine to satisfy his passion off road speed adventures. This developed over the next decade, seeing Alex compete in countless 4×4 off road races and championships in the UK, consistently finishing in the top five.
After twelve years Alex sought a new challenge and ventured to France where the off-road racing terrain was more varied with longer courses and the opportunity to achieve higher speeds. Alex spent his next decade as a regular on the French off road rally scene, culminating in him winning the France Rallye Tout Terrain Championship in 2006 – the first British driver to do so.
At the same time, Alex commenced his involvement with the Dakar, initially as a service mechanic for Bowler and their customer drivers from 2005. From this Alex was asked by a fellow competitor to teach his son how to ‘rally raid’ drive in preparation for his participation in the Dakar and in 2007, Alex’s young student finished the Dakar and became one of the youngest Rookies to reach the finish line.
Alex lined up on the Dakar start line the following year in 2008, but this was the year the race was famously cancelled at the 11thhour due to security issues, so Alex diverted his attentions to competing in a few races abroad that year, predominant in the sand, including the UAE Desert Challenge.
This last decade has seen Alex honing his sand dune skills by regularly competing and having success in international Rally Raid events in Northern Africa, as well as continuing teaching aspiring racers of all ages how to Rally Raid drive, race and navigate. He intends to compete again in the 2019 Dakar if it returns to Europe and Africa.
Alex’s wealth of experience and knowledge in off road racing competition, off road driver/navigator training and vehicle mechanics and engineering make him perfectly placed to work alongside Bowler as its Test & Development Driver, working on the development of the company’s race and road cars and chassis platforms, as well as leading Bowler’s driver training programmes.
Rally racing, the development of vehicles and supporting others to enjoy the great adventure that is 4×4 rally racing are part of my DNA. Combining that with being a part of developing Bowler’s next generation cars for race and road, and specialist vehicles for a variety of applications, is exciting and a great privilege. I’m looking forward to competing in races next year as the official Bowler driver and developing the Bulldog even further, as well as support Bowler’s Bulldog customers to pursue and progress their rally racing aspirations and adventures.