Ruben Boutens

Once something is a passion, the motivation is there...

12 hours of Eupen

Romano, Rico & Ruben win again
Eupen, 6 & 7 May 2017

On the 6th of May 2017 a new edition of the 12 hours of Eupen took place. This race is always one of the big indoor kart endurance races and so was it this year with 25 strong teams at the start including many fast Belgian and German drivers. Our team, BlueStar 1 consisted of Romano, Rico and myself, trying to give our victory from last year (then representing The Dutch Value) a good follow-up. After some practice on the slightly changed track, Romano started the 20-minute qualifying session in reversed direction. It was very close between the top 5 teams and we put Rico in the kart for the final minutes. He qualified in third position just behind the Belgians Benjamin Kaivers for TGK and Mathias Grooten driving for Modave. In the beginning of the race Rico did a double stint of 1 hour and 40 minutes and immediately took the lead. There was a lot of tactic involved in the race as numerous pitstops had to be made, and more importantly after 6 hours there was a change of direction preceded by a pace kart situation, here you could win or lose a lot by making the right decision in pit stop strategy.

170507 12h eupen bluestar

After Rico, Romano did his first stint and put down the fastest lap of the race, extending our lead. After Romano it was my turn and I had some problems with the high grip level. It took me some time to adjust but after a while I could drive competitive and very consistent laptimes. Rico was in the kart again when the direction change took place, and I guided him through the pit stop strategy which made us win some time. After a short powernap Romano was then ready to go for his second stint and proved his value once more by driving a fantastic stint. We were in 4th position because of more time spent in the pits but virtually we were leading the race by approximately 1 lap. I was very tired but had to put on my helmet again around 6.30 in the morning. When entering the track I was at full focus again and I drove a very strong stint with one good and one bad kart. The top 13 teams all shared the same karts and so we just had to minimalize the loss with less good karts.

170507 12h eupen bluestar 1 en 2

Rico was still in good condition and stepped into the kart again for the final part of the race. We still had a lead of 1 lap and he was able to maintain this advantage. Bluestar 2 with Logan Sougné, Yoand Medart and Simon Delvenne drove very strong to claim the second position, just in front of Blitz Racing team, the German drivers with a very strong line up (in the past driving for Euro Racing). 4th and 5th position were for the Belgian teams of TGK and Acquity, the former being very quick but losing some time on tactics. After 12 hours we finished the race again in 1st position, a very good result for us and this made us very happy on the podium. Compliments to the track for a very strong organization!

170507 12h eupen podium

Polish Indoor Kart Championship

Ruben secures fourth PIKC podium in four years
Szczecin, April 29th & 30th 2017

The PIKC has quickly evolved into one of the most popular indoor karting events of Europe, only established in 2012 it now already is a certainty on the calendar in the spring. While a few years ago most drivers arrived only on Friday, now many Northern European drivers already hit the Polish tarmac by Thursday or even Wednesday. For me it was Friday afternoon when I crossed the Polish border for the fourth year in a row, looking forward to face a whole bunch of strong international opponents again. After a few practice sessions I felt ready for the championship and we dived into the swimming pool of the hotel on Friday night, already speculating on who would be the drivers to beat this weekend. On Saturday 3 heats for all drivers were on the planning, the traditional set up including a hotlap qualification and a single pitstop required, all on 90kg. The first race immediately was a cracker, featuring the top 4 of last years’ event and so I had a chance to challenge Sebastian Papke straight away. Starting only from 7th position I had a difficult race in front of me, but when the tyres came up to temperature I was able to work my way up through the field and could even challenge the leader and last years’ runner-up Christian Wolf. Performing my pitstop on the penultimate lap I could close in even further and on the very last corner I overtook Christian and secured my first win of the weekend.

170430 pikc ruben start

It then was a long wait until my second race, but at Silver Hotel & Gokart Centre you never have to be bored as there were many interesting races to follow and a lot of fellow countrymen to support from the side of the track. During day one it was the German driver Lars Ole-Jens who was impressively fast, scoring no less than 3 victories out of 3 races and showing Germany had more title contenders than just Sebastian Papke to offer! With a close second place behind young Dutchman Thom van Dijk in race 2 in reversed direction and a strong victory over Belgians Vermeulen (last years’ number 5) and Deloitte colleague Peter Neefs, I was very happy with my own results as well. After the first medals were awarded on Saturday evening the nice atmosphere remained until almost midnight in both the restaurant and swimming pool, when some chose to get some sleep and others opted to discover some more Szczecin nightlife. When a couple of drivers was still drunk or asleep it was good old Corné Snoep that powered away from his rivals in heat first heat of round 4. My round four and five went according to plan, scoring another second place behind my only teammate form last weekend during our winning 24 hours of Brussels, Mathias Grooten and in front of Artur Pel from Poland. In race 5 I could finally score my first triple with pole position, fastest lap and victory. With 3 out of 5 victories and a 2nd place as a drop result I showed I could perform strong in the less good karts as well and I was ready for the semi-finals.

170430 pikc ruben achter

I was in the last semi-final and saw how the fast Germans Dennis Höller and Maxi Siese won the first two semis. I was pumped to do the same in race 3 and faced reigning world champion and my friend Rico Haarbosch for a third year in a row in the semi-final of the PIKC. While he was able to beat me in the two previous years it was now me who could pull the victory over the line in a thrilling race. I had to overtake both Rico and the strongest Polish driver of the weekend, Michal Grzyb and then won the race on consistency and a solid and fast pitstop, taking over the lead in the championship. A remarkable performance from Mellanie Motz who won the title ladies title over Selina Balneger and my girlfriend Edyta Paleczka as she was the only girl to make it to the 10-driver final line-up! Corné could celebrate his second master (35+) title and it was then time for the Junior final. Rico Haarbosch was the man to beat and took pole position in fashion for the final. He was challenged hard by the Polish youngsters Dawid Klarman (who in the end won the final) and Jakub Ziobro but Rico scored enough points to win his second PIKC junior title just in front of Jakub Ziobro, congratulations to the podium!

170430 podium dames

In the final shootout where all 10 senior finalists drove the same kart for a hotlap a couple of important points were on the line. 2.5 for the pole position and 1.5 and 0.5 for P2 and P3 on the grid. It turned out to be a 5-man show, between Grooten, myself and the 3 Germans Papke, Ole-Jens and Siese. The 5 of us had an edge over the rest of the field all weekend and it was Siese to take pole with just 0.05 and 0.06 second advantage over Papke and myself in third spot. Kart differences were small and the best 2 karts were drawn in the back of the field, and so a very exciting final was about to start. I had kart 11 which was very fast on the straight but had an awful lot of understeer in left hand corners. This made it very difficult for me in some stages of the final. It was first Grooten who pitted from 4th position while the top 3 was on each other’s bumper. Papke then made his pitstop and I closed the small gap to Siese in just 2 laps. I decided to go for an attack and took over the lead in the race, but with this move we both lost some time to Papke. As the times were so close it was hard to make up this time again and when Siese also pitted and when I saw I didn’t win any time on Papke I dived into the pit as well. I came out on the track side by side with Mathias and Ole-Jens, but was on the outside and dropped back to virtually a 4th position in the race just before Siese. The title suddenly seemed to be out of reach as Papke in the lead only had to hold out Mathias who closed in by the final laps of the race.

170430 pikc podium algemeen

I hoped to be second in the final ranking but by driving the fastest lap it was Maximilian Siese who grabbed second place just 0.5 point in front of me. A very nice championship came to an end and I have to congratulate Sebastian Papke with a 3rd title in 4 years time, very strong performance from the tall German racer. My third place was disappointing for a few minutes, knowing I was really close and realising I had won 4 races including the semi-final, but I also knew that being on the podium here for a 4th consecutive year is very nice and so I could be happy with this outcome at the end of the day! Compliments to organisers Remik Drzazga and Bartek Malutko, bringing to live an event like this for so many people involved is far from easy and there will always be some criticism, but I have to say hats off for a great edition of PIKC 2017 which I enjoyed all weekend long. The level of drivers was again very high, prizes were great and things like the timing schedule, kart draw, ranking updates, live timing and live coverage and medal ceremonies were very professional. From my side I cannot wait until next year!

Photos courtesy of: Susi Trauernicht

170430 pikc groep (1)

24 hours of Brussels

Ruben & Mathias perform the impossible!
Brussels, 22&23 April 2017

It was in 2010 when I really discovered the art called endurance racing. It was in April of that year when I was invited for one of the biggest 24-hour indoor kart races in Europe to drive in one of the top team consisting of Bart van de Vel, Mathias Grooten and Nikki Swannet. We won that race, and during this race I drove a stint of over 2 hours for the first time in my life, a new experience. In the years after I realised how special it was to have won this race, only in 2015 I managed to win it for the second time. It was around that time I started speculating with Mathias about driving the race just with the two of us. An incredible idea which started as a crazy plan but late 2016 we decided to finally go for it in the 2017 edition. Prepared as much as we could we arrived in Brussels on the 22nd of April, ready for one of the biggest challenges in our karting careers. Although we were going to drive the race with 2, we had the help of a couple of our Bluestar teammates and especially Robin Borremans who wanted to help us during the entire weekend in coaching and tactics, so we could focus on racing and recovery afterwards as much as possible.

170423 24h team

After the free practice we decided that Mathias was going to do the 15 minute-qualifying session. We had an average kart and Mathias managed to qualify in third position. During the race we had to drive 6 hours on minimum 90kg, the remainder on at least 80kg. We didn’t quite have an exact schedule of how we were going to divide the stints but we wanted to do the hours on 90kg with the best 3 karts. We had to do both 10 kart and driver changes which means stints of 2 hours and 10 minutes. During the first 4 hours we both drove a good stint with average karts, first falling back a bit to fifth place and then coming back to second place. A couple of strong competitors were Bluestar 2 with some world class drivers, Hola Lulu Racing and DWT Racing, all with a very strong 4 or 5-man line-up. After Mathias did the first hours on 90kg I was going for a double stint of almost 4 and a half hour. In the beginning of the race we were every time a bit faster than our opponents with the same karts, so we could take the lead and start building an advantage which we might have needed approaching the second part of the race. During this stint the lights fell out for like five minutes and the race was not stopped. Especially inside it was extremely dark and also dangerous as some drivers slowed down. I tried to stay up to speed as much as possible as I saw the score board was still on and we won a lot of time here, sometimes even up to 3 seconds a lap. After my second stint I still felt ok and Mathias did sleep for a while. In the next stint a change of direction took place, a novelty in the 27-year history of this event, and it was done with no team winning or losing any time! We then had another strong kart and Mathias drove again one stint on 90kg, because we wanted to change the weight to 80kg again afterwards.

170423 24h podium

This worked out well as Mathias was again one of the fastest guys on track even with 90kg. The other side of the medal was that I had little time to recover after my long stint, having had my second massage during the race. I felt during this third stint that I was losing a bit of energy, I still drove good laptimes but the consistency was a bit less good. We were 2 laps ahead of our competitors but I was worried at this time, knowing how long we still had to go. At the end of my stint it started raining just before the kart change and Mathias then continued after having to puke just before stepping into the kart. After eating a bit, I wanted to go to bed as quick as possible and asked my teammates to wake me up when needed. I could sleep for an hour of 2 and was then waked up again. Mathias was driving for 3 hours and I had to prepare again. The sleep did help me, and before I stepped in the kart once more I took some painkillers, some energy drink and a couple of shots of sugar. Like in my previous stint I wore a neck protector (something I practically never do) and a sweater over my suit to feel less pain. During the driver change Mathias shouted at me, ‘keep pushing, keep pushing’, a little bit extra motivation and out on the track I was again. It went well, I could maintain our 2-lap lead and started to enjoy the race again while the sun came up. Slowly I started to believe in something special. With 4 and a half hour to go Mathias took over the steering wheel again and DWT was still dangerous, starting to close in slightly and coming back to one and a half lap behind while we had to were a driver change behind and still had to drive 1 hour and 45 minutes on 90kg.

170423 24h mathias en ruben

I was then facing Filipe Vieira who was closing in on me as he drove on 80kg, DWT was very strong this race and the race was not over yet. Luckily, I was able to still drive fast and consistent times and could limit the loss. We were strongly supported from the side of the track and after the last driver change Mathias came out on track just 35 seconds in front of DWT. We were surviving on our very last portion of energy but the finish was coming closer. And after 24 hours we were the ones who saw the chequered flag first, we did it, we made it, it was amazing!! A magnificent performance and a fantastic feeling when we realised we had won one the 24 hours of Brussels just with the 2 of us. Both mentally and physically it was exhausting and that made it the best victory of my karting career so far. As many people told us beforehand we would not be able to remain competitive until the end of the race, it made it even more special and the admiration and appreciation of our opponents and the spectators was great. When opening the bottles of champagne on the podium and lifting the trophy with our last bit of power we didn’t feel the pain, but a couple of hours later we both suffered a lot. DWT finished the race in a very well deserved 2nd place on just 38 seconds behind us. Bluestar 2 took home the third position being 5 laps down on us, beating Hola Lulu with just a single lap. The days after were not the best in terms of physical fitness, but it was worth the pain more than ever. We want to thank our sponsors Foamzoo and Kinepolis and our Bluestar teammates and friends who supported us during the race!

Photos courtesy of: Serge Coppieters

170423 24h champagne

Belgain National Championship

Ruben falls short during special final after strong weekend
Dolhain, April 1st and 2nd 2017

The second edition of the Belgian National Championship (BNC), organized by former indoor kart world champions Mathias Grooten and Gregory Laporte took place during the first weekend of April 2017. Last year I couldn’t make it to this official KWC qualifier but this time I was present to race at the challenging track of Dolhain in the east of Belgium. About 50 drivers and 10 juniors subscribed for this very low budget but very high level indoor kart event. The atmosphere was great all weekend and we could drive a lot of race with hotlap qualifying, pitstop and shortcut against some of the best drivers from Belgium, Holland and a couple of internationals from Germany and the UK. In my first race I was battling for the victory with Benjamin Kaivers but unfortunately got stuck under one of the tire walls after placing an attack for first position, coming out of the corner 3 karts wide, but there was not enough space and I was pressed into the tires. This was immediately my drop result so I had to start from all the way down to work my way back up in the ranking.

dolhain blue star (1)

This went quite well as I was able to score a 3rd, 2 second places and a victory in my 5th and final heat of the day after a great battle with Belgian Bjorn Vermeulen. Therefor I moved back up in the top 10 again and I was eager to score well on the final day of competition. Benjamin Kaivers and Mats de Jong were very strong on the first day, and so was Rico Haarbosch, but he made some mistakes and had to come back from behind as well. Mats was unbeaten in all of his five heats and I faced him in the first semi final on Sunday morning. I drew a decent kart and was able to take pole position away from Mats. The race went well and I could win the semi quite easily!! A super win which took me from 7th position to 4th in the standings. The other semi finals were won by Kaivers and Rico. The the Juniors drove their final race and the champion turned out the be Bluestar junior Bastien Cabrera, he was very strong all weekend and beat the Dutch Value Juniors Eliano de Vos (2nd), Jarno Hermans (3rd) and Mike Dijkgraaf (4th). A lot of Spanish juniors took part in the championship and the sportsmanship we saw was great!

dolhain ruben mathias

Then the final of the masters, with just 10 hotlaps in 10 different karts. For me a bit of an anti climax, as you want to see fights, overtakes and strategy on the track, but now it was quite boring for the spectators. It was however a very fair way to show your speed and according to the ranking so far you got some penalty tenths, one for every position you were behind the leader. Mats de Jong proved to be the best this weekend, he was very fast in all karts and was crowned BNC champion 2017, big congratulations to him, very well deserved. Rico Haarbosch was a deserved runner-up, the only one to really chase Mats in the final! For me it was not the best final, I made some mistakes and lost especially time in the best kart. This unfortunately cost me the 3rd spot on the podium by less than a tenth of a second. Benjamin Kaivers ended up 3rd just before Romano Franssen, me and Thom van Dijk who was also really strong this weekend. The other finalists were German Dennis Holler, Nick van Ostade (Be), Christian Douven (NL) and Logan Sougne (Be). Compliments for the organization, I think all people really enjoyed this championship!

dolhain ruben

Rental Kart Masters 2017

Ruben fastest but misses title
Eupen, March 25th 2017

On the 25th of March the second edition of the Rental Kart Masters took place at Karting Eupen. Like last year there were 2 weight categories. Most drivers participated in the 80kg, almost 40 in total although Eupener Karting might have hoped for a little bit stronger and larger field. A couple of very quick drivers was present, including Belgian drivers Simon Delvenne, Benjamin Kaivers, Regis Gosselin and the Dutch Value and Bluestar trio from the Netherlands; Romano Franssen, Rico Haarbosch and myself. Each driver had to drive 6 preliminary rounds, all short sprint races including some pitstops and shortcuts, and every time with a hotlap qualification. After a couple of rounds it became clear that Rico, Romano and me were fighting for the victory today as we won almost all race in the heats. For me it went very well, after winning the first heat and a second place in heat 2, I won heat 3, 4 before being pushed out in leading position in race 5. This put me back in third and turned out te be my drop result luckily. I had some great battles with Rico and Romano and especially in race 4 I could win in fantastic style by passing Rico in the ultimate lap, thereby taking the lead in the rankings. After winning also the last heat of the day, I was clear ahead of the rest with only the final and superfinal shootout still remaining.

rental kart masters 2017 ruben 1

I was confident but both Rico and Romano were still having a chance on the title as the final counted for double points. This turned out to be quite dramatic for me, as I drew one of the worst karts in the final and I qualified only in 7th position while Rico and Romano were leading the pack. I fought for every position but could finish higher than 8th position which cost me so much points that I didn’t only lost the first place, I was also just too far behind to still have a chance on the title with just the super final shootout remaining. Rico, Romano and me had to pick one kart and drive 3 hotlaps in those 3 karts. This was a nice way to finish the day with the disappointing final still in mind, as I was over half a second faster than Rico and over 0.8 second faster than Romano, this proved that it was not because I was not fast enough today that I didn’t win the title. As Rico finished 2nd, he prolonged his title from last year and I jumped over Romano to become second just before him. German Nils Hartmann won the 100kg class. Congratulations to the winners and to the kart track of Eupen which organized another very professional event, I will definitely be back next year to race on this great track again!

rental kart masters 2017 podium