Ruben Boutens

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

12 hours Eupen

The Dutch Value to second place in 12 hour nightrace
11/12 May 2019

For the 7th time I participated in the 12 hour nightrace at Karting Eupen last weekend, teaming up with Romano Franssen and Rico Haarbosch for the Dutch Value, with who I won this race in 2016 and 2017. A total of 20 teams entered the 2019 edition, mainly from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The race consisted of 11 stints of just over 1 hour, of which 4 on 95kg and 7 on 85kg, 10 kart changes and 5 additional pitstops with a minimum time of 550 seconds in the pit. This provided plenty of option to play around with strategy and especially the direction change after 6 hours race was an interesting moment where you typically don’t want to be in the lead. We had a difficult first couple of hours, me starting the race in 11th position and losing some time on other top teams in the beginning of the race. Rico drove second and Romano third, this sequence we remained until the end of the race. We decided to do a lot of 95kg stints in the beginning of the race when we had some decent karts and before the direction change. After 6 hours it was BlueStar dictating the race with Benjamin Kaivers, Logan Sougne and Christian Douven all driving impressive laptimes. We were virtually only just in the top 10 and had to make up quite some time to come back onto the podium.

190513 12h podium

The direction change was ok for us, we won some time on most of our competitors but were still around 7th position. It was a close battle on the front of the field and our speed improved during the second half of the race, with Rico, Romano and me all driving some very good stints in the early morning to make up time bringing us back in the fight for the podium position. We managed to overtake the Belgian team of Standwork, DWT and Acquity and the strong German teams of KRS and PF Racing. With two hours to go I went into the kart for my last of in total 4 stints and felt satisfied about my speed which was not always at 100% in the first two stints. The last hour was split between Rico and Romano and we made our last 2 extra pitstops to arrive at a total of 15 stops. This brought us to second place, more than one lap clear of KRS who finished with 2 drivers (Felix Hahn and Michael Joussen) in a strong third position. Only the team of BlueStar was too strong for us today, scoring a dominant and well deserved victory 2 laps ahead of us. Another challenging edition came to an end at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning, I was tired but happy to make it onto another podium of this high level race, looking forward to the 25 hour race later this year in Eupen!

Polish Indoor Kart Championship 2019

Ruben in fine style to another big title at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center
Szczecin (Pl), 27-28 April 2019

The 8th edition of the Polish Indoor Kart Championship (PIKC) was seen by many as one of the largest and most prestigious indoor kart championships of 2019, with 120 drivers in the open category the event was completely sold out and with the addition of the British commentator James Auld (well-know from BRKC), PIKC 2019 was a better event than ever before. Already on Wednesday the first people arrived for practice heats which continued until the late Friday night. Last year was the first time in my 5 previous appearances that I did not make it to the podium and I was determined to do better this year. Therefore, I arrived earlier than last year and did already one practice heat on Thursday, followed by some more heats on Friday. I felt strong on out on the track straight away and couldn’t wait to start racing.

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On Saturday morning the championship started with the first of 5 qualifier rounds in the normal direction. I had a tough heat to start with the top 3 from the past Indoor Kart World Championship which was driven at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center as well, Polish Jakub Klek (2nd), Dutch Rico Haarbosch (3rd), but also Opnithi Puyato. In the morning it was raining and the outdoor part stayed open, which made the qualification lap tricky. I made some small mistakes and had to start from P4. In the race I could win just one position by overtaking Polish Dawid Chart halfway through the race. I was faster than the leaders (Klek and Puyato) but had not enough time to close the gap in the 15 laps, Haarbosch finished behind me in 4th. In my second race my group was slightly more easy and I qualified in 2nd behind German Carsten Waibel. During the race in reversed direction I could follow him closely and overtake him on track. My young countryman Eliano de Vos finished in 3rd. Eliano is one of the Dutch talented youngsters, and eventually won the Junior Championship during the PIKC this weekend, beating Dawid Zagol from Poland and David Papp from Hungary.

190428 bluestar racingteam

I had to wait 6 hours but never a dull moment with amazing racing which were completed during the first day of PIKC 2019, a pleasure to watch from the side of the track. In race 3 I had a very difficult group again, but taking pole position made my life easier this time. I could slowly pull away from one of the top contenders from Poland, Michal Grzyb, the number 5 from the past world championship and runner-up in the British Championship earlier this year. Rico was in this group as well and could overtake Michal later in the race, I didn’t have to take risks during my pitstop and took the maximum points score with the fastest lap as well. During the last race of the evening around 10 o’clock I was out on track for the fourth time today and I increased my number of victories to 3 today, a great result in another strong group, with Lars-Ole Jens from Germany chasing me and finishing 2nd before Mellanie Motz, the Dutch woman who was crowned undisputed women’s champion this weekend!

190428 ruben en james

On Sunday morning the remaining heats of round 4 were raced before I was scheduled for my 5th race. With my current results I could race this one without pressure, I decided to go full attack for my 4th win as my back-up with the drop result was a decent 3rd place. I could take pole position once more and with a relatively easy win and fastest lap I scored 87 out of 88 points in the preliminary rounds, an amazing result which gave me a 6 point advantage over Filipe Vieira from Portugal who was second in the ranking before a handful of other top drivers still going for the title, including 4-time and reigning PIKC champion Sebastian Papke from Germany, Grzyb, Romano Franssen (NL), Jens, Christophe Verhoeven (BE) and Klek, Dennis Holler (DE) and Puyato. In the battle qualification for the first semi-final I could first beat Matys (PL) and De Wolf (BE) before facing Rico. We were very close, but I was beaten by 0.03 and was left with a slightly less good kart. Starting in 3rd behind Rico and Lars-Ole Jens I still had a good chance for a nice result and with the three of us we were clear of the rest of the pack quickly. With an early pitstop Jens tried to make a tactical move, however I was able to close the gap on Rico, drive the fastest racelap and overtake Lars-Ole with the pitstop. Rico covered me well 2 laps later and I finished in 2nd, a good result which guaranteed me the lead in the championship going into the final. The other semis were won by Romano Franssen and Filipe Vieira, both very strong in the battles and race.

190428 podium

For the first battle in the final I was facing Sebastian Papke immediately, he made a faulty pitstop in the semi-final and just made it to the final as 16th and last driver. I was hoping not to be kicked out directly, but beat Papke and moved on to round 2. There was Rico again, this time I felt confident to beat him after a very good first lap, but a few minor mistakes on the second lap screwed my chances up as I lost by 0.02 seconds, a big disappointment which made my life much harder for the final. I was happy to see that Rico won the final battle from Grzyb, which was now my biggest rival, while Vieira starting behind me in 6th was another dangerous opponent. In the first laps I could overtake Opnithi with a late move which costs me a warning. Behind me were Filipe and Christian Douven (NL) and I could slowly pull away from them. It was a two-man battle for the lead of in the race, which was won by Grzyb who made an early pitstop and executed a successful undercut to win the final. I was behind Franssen in 4th place and knew I had to finish 5th to be equal in points with Michal, 4th would give me a 1-point advantage. I covered Christian who came close to me in the final laps of the race, with the pitstop I kept my position and the title was in the pocket. An amazing title to win, my second PIKC crown and this one felt even better than 4 years ago as I did it this time 100% on own strength instead of some accidents by others. The weekend felt like the world championship from last year continued and I’m grateful to have my name once more on the wall of fame in Silver Hotel & Gokart Center. Michal Grzyb and Filipe Vieira finished the championship in a well-deserved 2nd and 3rd place! I would like to finish my reporting saying thanks to the organization which was outstanding once more, a great championship, I’m looking forward to the 2020 edition already!

190428 groepsfoto

Indoor European Kart Challenge

Ruben drives back to second with great comeback
Middelburg, 23/24 February 2019

The third edition of the Indoor European Kart Challenge took place in the weekend of 23 and 24 February 2019 at Indoor Karting Middelburg. The championship is known by its incredible high level of drivers and amazing prize pool. From Wednesday to Friday practice sessions took place on the renewed track and I drove most of my heats after work on Friday. I felt ready but kart differences were quite big during practice, which increased the importance of the group and especially the kart draw. My first race on Saturday morning was by far my worst of the weekend. I was driving on place 2 in an average kart when I made a move for the lead in the race. I passed my countryman Kouijzer but slipped away in the next corner which allowed him to overtake me again and I got stuck in the tires when trying to keep up with him on the outside of the corner. I threw away a victory and after contact with some other drivers on the track I fell back to 9th place. Luckily we had a drop result which kept me alive in the championship. The rest of the day I was quite unlucky with my kart draw, and a 4th and two second places was the best I could do, resulting in a 12th place after day 1.

190224 iekc bluestar

This year, the final was all decisive in the championship and the standings after the semi-finals would determine the order in which we had to choose our karts, so extremely important. In the 5th and last qualification race on Sunday morning I drew another bad kart, while still having the chance to at least draw 8 good karts. I fought for every position and finished in third place, which made me climb still one place in the rankings. The semi-finals count for double points and I couldn’t afford any bad result, otherwise I could easily miss out on the final. Luckily I had an average kart this time, and I qualified in second position again behind Marcel Kouijzer. In the race we were bumper to bumper in the first half, before his kart slowed down a few times out of nothing. The numbers 3 and 4 in the race came back quickly and I decided to pit. Marcel stayed out and that allowed me to make the difference on track and jump him after his pitstop. I had to fend off Ricardo Vlieger behind me, but I made it to the finish line first. This victory came on a very good moment for me, due to mixed results of other high ranked drivers I jumped to third place in the ranking only behind Haarbosch and Puyato, two guys who were in the front of the ranking from race one and like during the KWC in 2018, very strong all weekend.

190224 iekc ruben

Before the final, the final for the team race took place, a new concept in IEKC introduced this weekend. Ten teams qualified on Saturday evening for the big final of 2 hours and together with Rico Haarbosch and Lorenzo Stolk we tried to put The Dutch Value on top again like in the qualification race. We had to make 2 driver/kart changes and these were not the best for us. We had to deal with difficult karts and were never really in the race for first place from the start. Auto Sturm (consisting of Sturm, Sturm and Bakker) won the race, before another Dutch team, Klaver 4, featuring Verbaarschot, Bartelen and Van Domburgh. After I overtook the number 3 team in the last stint, we finished on the last podium spot.

190224 iekc zw w

Then the big individual final, all 15 drivers had to drive a single lap in one kart one by one, Mats de Jong from Belgium put down a very strong laptime as second driver to go out (41.48). The next 10 drivers all were slower ranging from 41.9 to 41.5 and then it was my turn. I drove a good lap and improved the best time to 41.43, with just Opnithi and Rico left. Opnithi drove the slowest time with 41.9 while Rico did a great job, beating everyone else with a 41.33, amazing lap! In the race Rico and I quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, including De Jong, Grzyb (Pl) and Leloux on the spots behind us. I could stay close to Rico for like three laps, but then he increased the pace and with his first kart pick, it was not possible for me to keep up with him. Opnithi drove a very strong race, staying out very long and coming back to 5th place (still worth 600 euro) in the final standing, just before German Michael Schöttler who is always strong in Middelburg. Mats had the 1 before last kart pick and did everything he could, finshing in 9th position and still taking 200 euro back to Belgium. For third place it was very exciting as a battle between Matts Breckpot and Tim Leloux resulted in a third place for the young Dutchman Leloux, taking home a 1000 euro cash prize. During my race I didn’t take any risk from half way onwards, performing a safe pitstop and finishing the race and championship in second position. This was certainly the best result possible this weekend and thus I was satisfied with my best performance so far during the IEKC, which brought me a nice 1500 euro as well. Rico was the well-deserved winner of the 2000 euro cash prize, a very strong weekend from his side and his second IEKC title. I’m looking forward already to come back stronger next year.

Photos: en Mad Brothers’ Racing

190224 iekc individueel

Swedish Rental Kart Championship

Ruben with electric karts in Sweden for the first time
Küngälv (Se), 27 January 2019

After having raced in the Belgian (1st), Spanish (2nd) and British (1st last week) national championships in the past months, I travelled to Gothenburg for another KWC qualifier event. I was planning on visiting Sweden already for a couple of years, but flights are typically expensive and this time I finally made it to Sweden for the first time in my life. I arrived at the brand-new track of Gokartcentralen in Küngälv, just 20 minutes North of Gothenburg, where a fleet of electric karts was waiting for us. I drove 3 practice heats on Saturday evening and I had to adapt to the karts as the acceleration and driving style was different compared to normal karts. The championship was organized by Glenn Gyllin who participated in several world championships himself in previous years. Some 60 drivers were presented, most of them coming from either Sweden or Denmark and a lot of strong names amongst them. The format was a special one with first 4 heats including 2 time trials and 2 races with a 2-lap qualification and 2 mandatory longcuts. The worst result was dropped before the top 24 drivers qualified for the semi-final.

190127 srkc 2019

I started my day with 2 victories in the heats while facing amongst others one of the top Swedish drivers of last year’s KWC, Erik Berggren. I could try some more different lines and seat positions, it was strange to not hear any engine sound when accelerating from the pitlane, but I have to say I was positively surprised by the small kart differences and driving of these karts. In my first race I could take pole position and do one of my longcuts while staying in the lead, when the race was stopped because of a kart breakdown. After some discussion it was decided not to restart the race and I won also my 3rd heat. In race 4 I had a difficult kart and I finished in 3rd place behind Danish Nikolaj Marsengo and Carsten Sparholt. I qualified for the semis in 3rd place, tied in points with the top 3, consisting of local star Erkin Bour, Nikolaj Marsengo and Ian Andersen. In the semis we could pick our karts in the order of the ranking, so I had the second kart pick after Ian. The race went really well, after I took pole position I could drive away slowly from the rest of the field and take my longcuts without losing the lead in the race.

190127 srkc 2019 podium

For the final 8 drivers were left and the classic and fair knock-out qualification system was applied to determine the kart allocation and starting order. I managed to win my first duals from Alex Engblom and Nikolaj Marsengo before facing Erkin Bour in the last battle. I noticed that our times were very close all day and ultimately, we were split by 0.01 of a second after 2 laps of the both of us, Erkin won the battle and had the first kart pick. The track was not easy to overtake so I knew I had a difficult race on my hands. In the first few laps a small incident where I was pushed wide cost me a couple of seconds. I tried to bridge the gap and came very close again to Erkin, but just as I was almost on his bumper, he found an extra gear and drove away from me again with small margins. I tried to force something with a double longcut, but I couldn’t reach his bumper again, so I had to settle for second place in the race, which also meant a second place in the championship. Erkin was the deserved winner and took home the 3000 SEK prize money and free KWC entry ticket. I was a bit disappointed just after the race, but happy to be on the podium again in another international race. The third place and junior title was for Nikolaj Marsengo, a great talent! Carsten Sparholt won the masters category and therefor also received a free entry to the 2019 Indoor Kart World Championship in the USA. All in all, it was a great experience and I hope to be back next year!

British Rental Kart Championship 2019

Ruben battles his way to incredible sixth British title
Milton Keynes (Gb), 19-20 January 2019

The British Rental Kart Championship (BRKC) is arguably the most professional indoor kart championship in the world. In no other championship the level of live coverage and entertainment is so good as it is Milton Keynes in the first month of the year during the BRKC at Formula Fast Karting. Additionally, the kart equality and the set-up of the event makes sure it is also one of the fairest championships. No surprise the championship was sold out in a couple of hours, attracting top drivers from all over the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Weeks before the championship actually starts, the enthusiasm rises as group draws are done, predictions are made, practice heats performed and the prefaces are written. Friday 18th of January 2019 all competitors meet at the track for their last chance to drive around the circuit before the money is on the line. 100 drivers, 90kg minimum weight, 40 heats, 30 semi-finalists, 10 drivers per race, 10 finalists, 2 commentators, 2 different lay-outs, 1 pitstop per heat and 1 hotlap qualification before every race. These were the numbers that we knew before the races got underway on Saturday morning, everyone was excited to find out how the 100 places in the final ranking would be filled in.

No matter if you are watching a BRKC race from the cafeteria inside the karting, from your phone at the beach in Australia, from the couch warm at home or in the cold at the side of the track, it is always a great pleasure to watch. No matter if you are watching the heat of death or a race with 10 drivers you have never heard of before, the legendary BRKC commentator James Auld makes sure you are always at the tip of your chair enjoying the race, as he and co-commentator Spanners Ready provide every race from detailed and passionate commentary and post-race interviews. Half of the drivers was scheduled for 3 races on day 1 whereas the other half would drive their last 2 heat races on Sunday. Happy faces and disappointed faces, celebration of good results and incorrect pitstops, bas pass flags and fantastic overtakes, pitstop strategy and defensive driving, the heats on Saturday had everything to offer you could wish. About my own heats, of which I had 3 on Saturday, I couldn’t complain at all. Only in my last race I didn’t start from pole position as Spanish Ramon Pineiro put in a fantastic qualifying lap, but in the end of the day I was able to win all my 3 races, topping the ranking after day one. I was happy given some of my UK rivals that I faced already, including Ed White, Sean Brierley, Lee Hackett, Dan Healey and Bradley Philpot.

Sunday was the big day, in fact, today the all decisive final was due at the end of the day’s program. But to come there, a first cut of 70 drivers had to be survived to enter the semi-finals. As the difference between place 20 and 40 was so small, clearly some drivers took additional risks to get themselves over the line in their final heat race. After the final heat was finished Sunday afternoon, it was double BRKC champion (2012 & 2013) Lee Hackett who was in the lead with 39 points. I was tied in points with Lee after having had a very difficult 4th heat with some close-fought battles where I ultimately came home in second place behind the fast BRKC debutant Brandon Williams who outqualified me and defended his position well during the race. A few top drivers including Jonny Elliott and Matt Bartsch even didn’t make the semi’s, showing what kind of level we had on our hands this weekend. The semi-finals are always very exciting, even the drivers who are in the top of the ranking are not guaranteed of a place in the final as points are ever so close. Three groups, all 20-minute race preceded by a hotlap qualification. It was my BlueStar teammate Logan Sougne from Belgium who managed to win the first semi-final, while there was some English drama with Sean Brierley (who was very fast all weekend) spoiling his potential semi-final win and place in the final by making an error in the pitlane and Lee Hackett having an unlucky kart-draw and finishing in 7th position.

In the second semi-final it was my other BlueStar teammate Yoan Medart who climbed up to second place in the ranking by winning the race in fine style, underlining his candidacy for another BRKC podium position after having finished 3rd in the last year’s final. I was able to score a 2nd place with a difficult kart after a nice battle with Polish young talents Nowicki and Matys, which was good enough to secure the first place in the ranking. The third semi-final was probably the hardest one with Michal and Wojtek Grzyb from Poland (both frontrunners at the past world championship indoor) and English hopes Ed White and local driver Lewis Manley. It was Ed White who drove a very strong race to the victory which secured his place in the final. While Lewis Manley just made the final with a 6th place finish, it was Wojtek Grzyb who fell down from 4th to outside the top 10. Apart from Logan, Lee, Yoan, myself, Ed and Lewis, the other finalist were British Brandon Williams and Dean Hale, Polish Michal Grzyb and his talented countryman Patryk Nieroda. Dutch youngster Guillermo van Pamelen just missed out on the final after a great weekend and ended up in 12th place. One by one we had to drive our qualification lap in the number 11 kart to determine the starting order of the 30-minute final. The tension was very high, laptimes so close, the track more slippery than you would like. I had the first kart pick, a big advantage but with the kart parity being so good the start position was more crucial to fight for the title. My lap was good, but apparently not good enough for pole position, I qualified in third behind Michal Grzyb and Lee Hackett, and only just before Patryk Nieroda. The top 4 was split by only 0.02 of a second, insane!

The final was underway and two outsiders from the back pitted early, Yoan Medart and Ed White both didn’t qualify in the top 5 but they were certainly not to be underestimated. Lee covered the inside of most corners in the beginning of the race, not much looking behind and following Michal. When Michal pulled away slightly and Ed started to increase his pace at the back of the field, I knew I had to make a move. At the end of the straight, going into the hairpin, I found the right moment to overtake Lee and get into second position. Michal was just a second away and I could close the gap in a couple of laps. He was smart and defended his position at the end of the straight, giving me no possibility to overtake at that point again. I backed off a bit to speed up the pace as the defensive lines cost too much time looking at our advantage to Ed, which was just about 22 seconds at that moment, knowing that we still had to make 2 pitstops of about 10-11 seconds. Halfway through the race I was on Michal’s bumper again as Ed still closed in slowly. If I couldn’t overtake him on the track, my strategy was an undercut with a double pitstop, but if that would give me first place was far from sure. I went for an attack in the final corner of the track where I managed to get past Michal, it was for sure a risky move as a bad pass would probably give Ed the virtual lead in the race. Luckily it worked out perfectly for me although Ed was now only 21.6 seconds away. I know had to make the most out of my kart which was a good one for sure and could get some purple times (fastest racelap) on the scoreboard.

I felt that the control of the race came back in my hands, and I waited until the last 5 minutes to perform my pitstops, to build up a slightly bigger gap, so I didn’t have to take any big risks in the pit. I exited the pit only a second before Ed, the crowd was on their feet and the atmosphere amazing. Both Ed and I went into the 31.5 laptimes which were the fastest times of the entire weekend! When I saw the chequered flag I felt fabulous, winning for the 6th year in a row is another dream come through, it is almost incredible for myself as well to win the biggest trophy and the ₤1000 cash prize. I knew at the beginning of the weekend I had a chance again to go for another title, but with so many big names on the grid I never take something for granted, everyone starts from zero and every single mistake can cost you a place in the final. Given the amazing live-coverage on Youtube a lot of people followed the race via internet, which makes performing well at this event even much more special. Ed White and Michal Grzyb finished in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, while Lee Hackett and Lewis Manley fought their way into the top 5 as well. Together with Logan and Yoan I secured the team championship, for which we all three received a fantastic trophy of glass. Once more I would like to thank the English people, commentators, organiser Bradley Philpot, track staff and camera crew for their warm welcome and the great weekend. I can imagine many people would love to see a different winner sometime, but it means a lot to me to win this title again! Hope to see you all in again in 2020 at a new edition of the British Rental Kart Championship!

Thanks to Mad Brothers Racing Team; Bradley Philpot and Lee Marshall for the Pictures !