Round 1 – Walter’s Arena
Posted on 28 February 2023
Walters Arena Rally Circuit is a thrilling and challenging rally circuit located in the heart of South Wales and has been home to rally championships since Walters took over the site in the 1990s.
Its origins go back to just after WW2 when it was a huge 4,000-acre opencast coal mine. When it fell out of use, the mine was loosely filled and topsoiled and became covered with grass and conifers.
Walters saw its potential for long-term development and began landscaping, planting and improving the area. It is now an internationally recognised vehicle test venue, rally circuit and occasional film and television location set!
The arena offers a wide variation of terrain and surface conditions exposing drivers to a range of driving conditions. Drivers are forced to constantly adapt their driving style to suit the changing conditions – from tight technical sections where millimetres off the clean line can make the difference between success and disaster, to fast flowing gravel stage type sections. There is also a large change in elevation with some big climbs and changes in grip levels, especially in the densely wooded areas where the sun gets little chance to dry the course.
So, what can the drivers expect? Specifically designed by the Bowler team, the 7.7-mile course round Walters Arena will mean that all the competitors have to maintain a laser focus from the second the start lights go green to the chequered flag.
As a Comp Safari style event which will cover up to 14 laps, the competitors will be able practice every element of their driving techniques and doubtless increase their pace over the weekend. The course has been set up to primarily focus on the driving technique prior to moving on to the gravel events where the navigation will add another element.
There are some very fast sections that take no prisoners so all the drivers will need to be on their guard. The finish jump can be brutal so playing the long game is essential. This is another key thing to learn for those entrants that want to join us for the bigger BAJA events. Rogue rocks are also one to be mindful of where they have been dislodged by other cars, with the time cost of a puncture being able to snatch victory from the fastest driver.
Weather changes at Walters is something it is famous for. The course can go from having amazing grip levels to almost zero in short order. The size of the course can also mean that there are big weather variations in selected areas making sure the competitors learn to adapt fast!
On last years’ experience at Walters Arena, Bowler Head Of Motorsport, Dave Marsh, had this to say: “We had a very broad level of experience at the last Walters event. Those that played the long game of keeping on the clean line and driving smoothly benefitted the most. Taking risks here doesn’t pay off too often. One thing that really shone through was how much fun the crews were having and the opportunity to get to know everyone before we embarked on events with other competitors. Everyone left Walters knowing the venue has teeth!”
For those who are competing with no previous experience, the Bowler team will be on hand to coach and mentor all the competitors. The location will provide a true assault on the driving senses to help broaden everyone’s experience in this discipline and provide firm foundations as they progress through the series.
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