Ruben Boutens

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

8 hour nightrace Silver Hotel & Gokart Center

Ruben & Rico on fire in 3rd edition of Silver nightrace
Szczecin (PL), 28 October 2018

The third edition of the 8 hour nightrace at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center was organised in the weekend of 27 and 28 October 2018. After two successful editions in 2015 and 2016, The Dutch Value was also present during the 2018 edition. This time again with myself, after having won this race in 2015 together with Corne Snoep, together with Rico Haarbosch. Only a couple of months ago this beautiful track was the scene of a fantastic edition of the Indoor Kart World Championship, and the karts were ready to go again for a nice endurance race. A field of 13 teams lined up, including international flavour from Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and of course Poland. Before the start of the race we had a 30 minute free practice and 6 minutes qualification. In this session it was very close between a couple of teams, and in particular between Sebastian Papke from PPR RT (winners of the 2016 edition) and Rico from our team. Just a few hundreds of a second split the two for the fastest lap in the qualification. It was four time Polish Indoor Kart Champion Papke who ultimately took the pole position.

The start of the race was in Le Mans style, running to the kart to jump in and launching the 8 hour race at midnight. The outdoor part of the track was open for this race, but the circumstances were quite different from those during the world championship of last summer. At that time tarmac was flying around because of the heat, while it was now cold and sometimes rainy, making the track quite tricky. In the opening lap it started to drizzle outside which surprised Rico, creating a gap between us and the leader. Afterwards, Rico was fast and slowly started to close in on Sebastian and overtook him halfway through the first stint. We had 14 stints of c.35 minutes, and besides that we had to make 4 extra stops. We decided to start with double stints and everytime PPR RT got our gat of the stint before while we got the kart of Hussarya team Poland, one of the strongest Polish teams and a challenger for the win tonight. It was therefore easy to compare laptimes and in the second stint Rico seemed to be fast. Papke did 3 stints in a row and won time on us after having made his first extra pitstop to get in clean air. Hussarya was closing in on us as well, and they had a strong line up including the numbers 2 and 4 of the past world championship, Jakub Klek and Michal Grzyb.

In the 3rd stint I came out on track for the first time and took over the kart from Klek. It was very nice to see that I was slightly faster as him in this kart, and we could virtually take back the lead from PPR RT in this stint. In the fourth stint I could further increase the lead by bringing the fastest racelap so far to 49.34, every team got all the 14 different karts during the night. In the mid pack of the field, Team Holland impressed with a very young team including Dutch talents Mike Dijkgraaf, Tess Verschoor, Max op den Kamp and the more experienced driver Guido van den Heiligenberg. They were surprisingly fast, matching laptimes of most top teams and were competing for a top 5 position in the pro ranking (for teams consisting of 4 or more drivers). At the front of the field we increased our lead with a couple of strong stints, also in less good karts. PPR RT dropped back a little bit because of an incorrect pitstop (resulting in an extra pitstop of 43 seconds!), while the Belgium Traxxis team drove consistent stints and made their way up onto the podium. Traxxis won the team championship during the past Indoor Kart World Championship and now drove with Kenny Verbinnen and Peter Neefs, coached by Ward Maenhout.

In my penultimate stint, the 11th of the race, I set the best lap time on 49.14, which would remain until the end of the race, confirming we were the fastest team today in terms of race pace. Hussarya was however less than 2 laps behind and still going strong, featuring the Skoda rally driver Mikolaj Marczyk as well. Mikolaj competed in several big indoor kart competition before and has always been a strong competitor not to underestimate. In the closing hours of the race many people complained about a headache or being sick of the dirty exhaust gasses inside the building. This made the race physically hard and as Rico still felt relatively fit, we decided to let him drive the final 2 stints. Our advantage over Hussarya increased to almost 2 laps, while Traxxis was holding PPR RT off on 20 seconds for the final spot on the podium. After 8 hours the chequered flag was waved and we could celebrate a very nice win in this great race. We were very happy with our performance and were glad we came again to Poland. After the podium celebrations we quickly passed by the breakfast before heading to our beds again, we needed it after this race by night! We would like to thank Remi Drzazga for the smooth organisation and hope the rumours of a 24 hour race next year will be realised!

Puchar E1 Gokart Poznan

Ruben victorious in first edition Puchar E1 Gokart in Poland
Puchar E1 Gokart Poznan, 14 October 2018

During the 2018 Indoor Kart World Championship I was approached by my karting friend Karol Romanczyk regarding a new indoor kart tournament hosted on the new track of E1 Gokart in Poznan. The format included 4 qualifier rounds, a semi-final and a final for the top 12 drivers in the ranking. 90 kilograms was the minimum weight and there was a great prize pool, so I was looking forward to go. A new track for me, and I arrived there on Saturday 13th of October, the track looked amazing, having a first-floor level and an outside part. The Sodi karts were not very fast, but nice to drive. The weather was perfect this weekend and that allowed us to also drive on the outside part. After a few practice heats I felt comfortable on the track and I really liked the variation between the normal tarmac on the ground floor and the more slippery surface on the first floor. On Saturday evening we went into the beautiful city center of Poznan to relax before race day would start on Sunday.

On Sunday around 30 drivers gathered on the track, maybe slightly less than expected but some strong drivers were present and for a first edition it was a really nice field of drivers. A lot of drivers I didn’t know but it felt like many people were looking at me as being the favorite, I was the only non-Polish driver on the grid today. I was excited to get going and in the first heat I could take the full amount of points after being chased by the young Polish talent Maksymilian Bergiel. In every race we had to make a pitstop which worked via a laser system which detected that you entered the pitlane. In the next rounds I faced a couple of strong opponents, but every time I managed to grab the victory, kart differences didn’t seem to make the difference today, which is always very good. After 4 qualifier rounds I was 3 points ahead of Przemo Niewiadomski, a driver I knew from the Polish Indoor Kart Championship who has driven here before and was very quick. He finished one time second, and like in the qualifying heats, we didn’t meet in the semi-final as the group were based on the points standing. We both won our semi-final, keeping it tight going into the big final.

The number three placed driver was already some 10 points behind, so I knew my focus should be Przemo as he was my only real rival left. All 12 finalists had to do 1 hotlap in the same kart one by one, starting with me. I put in a very good lap, feeling confident this might give me some extra points for the shootout qualification. It was cool to see the 11 other drivers going one by one after me and I had some time to prepare for the final race, for which I didn’t draw the best kart in the pack, but neither did Przemo. Nikodem Wierzbicki qualified in 2nd place after me, which was not bad for me looking at the points. The final comprised 25 laps, approximately 25 minutes, and I was challenged from the beginning by Nikodem. He put me under a lot of pressure, for the first time today I had a real battle on my hands and this was nice to see in the final. We pulled away slowly from Przemo who was around 5th place and when Nikodem made his first of 2 mandatory stops approximately halfway in the race, I decided to stay out. I was risking the first place in the race as Nikodem was a bit faster than me, but for the championship this was safer. When I made my two pitstops, I came out just behind the leader, but I was still close. When a backmarker was in front of us, I could come on his bumper again and I attacked the same lap, taking back the lead successfully. From that moment I defended and I booked my sixth victory of the day, winning the championship with a clean sheet!

It was amazing to win the first edition of this event in style, and a big honour being received in Poznan with a lot of respect and appreciation. During the prize giving ceremony a lot of great prizes were awarded to all top 10 finishers. On the podium I received a nice trophy, a free entry ticket for next year and for another Polish championship. On top of that I got a driving course from a professional racing driver, Mateusz Lisowski, to which I’m really looking forward. I would like to thank the organization including Karol Romanczyk and the crew of E1 Gokart for the invitation and hope to see you again next year during an even bigger second edition of this event.

25 hours of Eupen

BlueStar realizes fantastic hattrick in Eupen’s finest
Eupen, 29/30 September 2018

The 25 hours of Eupen, as if 24 hours weren’t enough. Eupen’s most prestigious race was back in the last weekend of September. Together with my fellow BlueStar teammates, Christian Douven, Mathias Grooten, Logan Sougne, Romano Franssen, Yoan Medart and our team captain Gregory Laporte I was entering this race again. A very strong line up of 18 teams with plenty of international flavor prepared for one of toughest races of the season. On Friday evening the briefing and practice took place, a relaxed atmosphere was present and some final preparations by all teams were done. As we won the race in the last 2 years, we were seen as the favorite by many people. However, we were well aware of the competition out there and especially the Belgian/German team of Acquity Racing was on full power and looking for their first victory in this race. On Saturday morning the track was cold as ice, something that would change quickly. I started the 25-lap qualifier and handed over to our top talent Logan Sougne halfway through the session. He managed to grab the 3rd spot on the grid, behind both Acquity teams and before some strong Polish teams.

The race was underway and Logan took second place quickly. Only Marc Schings from Acquity was too quick for us in the beginning of the race, but no stress as we would exchange all 19 karts during the race. This meant we had to do 19 stints of about 1 hour and 20 minutes, including 6 on 95kg instead of 85. Logan did a good stint and I went out on track for the second, immediately on 95kg. Right after me Yoan and Romano did two more stints on 95kg, and we all managed to drive laptimes which were still amongst the fastest in the field. We build up a lead from the second stint onwards and felt confident about our pace so far. The professionalism of the organization was seen in many aspects, interviews broadcasted live with all teams, massage available in the lounge upstairs and the crew very helpful both on and off track. As the evening came closer I did my second stint already, again on 95kg and I was able to match the pace of our main rivals in the previous stint on 85kg. This felt very good and we tried to increase our lead over Acquity Racing.

After an hour of 6 our lead stabilized, Acquity seemed to be our only real rival this weekend, but they certainly didn’t give up yet. When I finished my second stint I was going for some fresh air and a pizza outside the karting track, with 6 drivers you have time to relax and I could prepare already for some more action during the night. Meanwhile Christian and Mathias did their first stints, the first adapting amazingly quick to the circumstances and the latter struggling a bit more on the very grippy and tricky track. Halfway through the race, the direction was changed and the leaders were picked up by a safety kart. We tried to avoid being in the lead, as you always lose time being the first behind the safety kart, and we could play around with our strategy as we had to spend a certain time in the pit. Acquity was also alert and in the end, we were in the lead halfway and hence, lost some time. Our advance was reduced to a virtual 25 seconds and we felt the competition in every stint. Acquity had quite a different strategy as they drove the first half of the race with 3 drivers in one direction, and left the other 3 for the normal race direction.

While some people went to bed for a while, I was ready to step back into the race in the middle of the night. Some crucial hours were awaiting us and I could drive my first stint on 85kg. The grip level was insane and also very narrow. Being off the main grip line with 20 centimeter could mean that you completely lost the kart in under- or oversteer and that made it very, very hard to drive consistent laptimes. Bjorn Aelberts from Acquity was a little slower than me on fastest laptime, but his average was impressive and so he stayed very close. Our advantage was reduced to 20 seconds when I entered the track, but as Cemil Yamizoglu from the Acquity squad had a very bad kart, I could take back a full lap. The stint after, we had this same kart, and I took this kart on me as well, driving a stint of 2 hours and 40 minutes. I could limit the damage in this kart to maximum half a lap, which still gave us a lead of a lap and 10 seconds. My job was done for the moment, I went upstairs to the sleeping room, trying to catch some sleep.

I had full confidence in my teammates, and especially role of Gregory was not to be underestimated, he kept us sharp all race long, being on the side of the track or in the pitlane for the entire weekend, always supporting and motivating us. That was necessary, as Acquity kept pushing as well. When I woke up again, it was exciting to check the score board, and we were luckily still in the lead with an advantage of about a lap. The last couple of hours arrived and Christian, Logan and Yoan once more pulled the trigger. It was great to see them excel in such a big race. Acquity was strong until the end, coming back into the same lap in the last hour of the race and finishing just 40 seconds behind us after 25 hours!! That’s not even one and a half second per hour. But we made it, a fantastic feeling and with great team spirit we secured our third victory in a row at the 25 hours of Eupen! A great round of appreciation we would like to give to the organizers and all participating teams who made this event worth remembering again. Hope to se you all next year!

Indoor Kart World Championship 2018

Ruben's road to his 2nd world title in 10 pictures
Szczecin (Pl), 22-29 July

There is no other competition for which my preparation is better than for the Indoor Kart World Championship. Preparation is not only about driving practice heats on location, this also concerns physical training in the weeks and months before the event. It is traditionally warm at the end of July and although this year's location in Poland is no Italy or Spain like we experienced in the last years, it was nevertheless warm and I wanted to be ready. In no way my physical condition may be a limitation in racing or endurance, for me this is one of the important side conditions to perform on my best. Practice in the week before the world championship is the most important aspect of preparation though. Where I would drive probably a handful of heats for other competition, for the world championship I don't want to leave anything to chance. I make sure I arrive on time, to adapt to the circumstances the karts and the track. If practice goes well your confidence rises, something your rivals will notice as well, giving you an edge already before the championship has started. I practice always on 91kg, my starting weight for the races, simulating race conditions as much as possible. A heat on 80kg in a fast kart to beat the best time of the day is absolutely not done.

1 wk18 training

Nations Cup
Traditionally the world championship kicks off with the Nations Cup, a team event where you represent your country in a team of 2-4 drivers. The event is split into 2 races, the first to qualify for the big final where eye-catching trophies are on the line. For the third consecutive year, I fought together with my Dutch Value teammates and friends Rico Haarbosch and Lorenzo Stolk for glory on the 22nd of July. The enormous enthusiasm of Rico in the first laps of the race got us in trouble as we received an early penalty for a too aggressive move. We had to give everything to drive back into the top 7, necessary to qualify for the final, in the remainder of the 2-hour race. We made it with a 6th place, but only just. In the final race a Le Mans start was used where I could take the lead in the race from a third position on the grid, starting a very exciting and close 3-hour race. With great stins of both Lorenzo and Rico we were constantly aiming for the victory, but in the end we arrived in 2nd place only a few seconds behind the winning German combination of Sebastian Papke, Dennis Höller, André Lohse and Tobias Laube. A fantastic race, leaving the Belgian team of Mathias Grooten, Yoan Medart and Romano Franssen behind in third. The top drivers already showed their speed, in anticipation of an even more exciting individual championship, two days to cool down before the torches are lighted again.

2 wk18  nations cup

International line-up
The international character of the world championship is utmost special, walk through the beautiful cafeteria of Silver Hotel and Gokart Center and you will hear at least 10 different languages. Sauntering around the parking place, a moment away from the exhaust gases and the tension on the track, you will see number plates from countries you won't visit every year. The temperament of the Brazilian squad, the strong accent of the Australian racer Scott Mutimer and the Scandinavian tranquility and thoroughness, the world championship is a special come-together of top drivers from all over the world. Familiar faces all over the place, but every year some rising stars are emerging, setting foot on the podium for the first time for collecting one of the special KWC medals after one of the races. The presence of the next generation drivers was particularly noticeable this year, the number of teenagers challenging at the front of the field is rapidly increasing over the past years. The opportunism and inexperience of the youth regularly translates into penalties, but certainly also in admiration of the established drivers, a strong motivation for the older generation to step up once more to keep up with the ever increasing level of competition.

3 wk18 internationale veld

My hunt for a second world title crown started on Wednesday July 25th with the first of 8 qualifier races of 25 laps. Practice went very well, but differences were small, details would make the difference. Studying the details is something that I really enjoy, discussing race lines with teammates while being honest but not giving away all your secrets. Changing the position of the seat slightly, seems something little, but practice showed me it did make a big difference. The time that I put the seat in the position which is most comfortable to drive lies far behind me. I knew exactly at which moment of the day (regarding temperature, race direction and condition of the tyres) I had to put the seat in which position, when I had to put the lead in the side pockets of the kart or under my ass and when I had to warm up the tyres or clearly avoid this. Details that count, that make the difference between pole position in the one-lap qualification or not, resulting in an extra point but more important a good starting position for the race. I fully utilised my practice heats to prepare as good as possible and this paid off in the first two days, where I performed on my best in the karts I had, resulting in two second and two first places.

4 wk18 details

Gene Fireball shouts out loud in the pitlane, he puts drivers on their place and is a remarkable appearance in the organisation of the world championship. With his Brazilian American show background he knows how to entertain and to keep everyone happy. As no other, he knows how to break the tense atmosphere and the nerves that go together with all of the races, throwing some striking texts towards the drivers during the drivers briefing or at the prize giving ceremony at the end of each day. The world championship is for most drivers a rollercoaster of emotions. Did you just score a great victory in one of your races, is the next one already around the corner which turns out not to be so successful as you hoped. Hands in the air when an orange flag is pointed towards you, or smashing your gloves on the ground after a frustrating race. My nerves came especially on day 3 and 4 when I knew I was in a good position in the ranking, I knew the possibility was there to extend my world title crown. My will to win increases the tension you feel, which is sometimes hard to control. Luckily last years title gave me calmness and the experience you need to pull the trigger at the moment your competitors collapse under the pressure of the moment.

5 wk18 sfeer

The world championship is long and no driver survives the week without any form of setback. Nor do I, and this week maybe, certainly not me. Karts in general excelled in reliability during the championship, however I was one of the few drivers to experience mechanical failure of the kart during one of my races. While leading race 6, the drive belt from the engine broke and my race was over. I lost costly points, a setback you don't want to experience during a world championship. The malfunction was a result of the heat, as the tarmac on the outside part of the track was suffering and starting to crumble. Small pieces of tarmac were on the track and unfortunately came between the drive belt of my kart which tore. The same dust and stones already cost me a victory in one of the earlier races, as one of the slower drivers in the field drove through the outside line, which put many debris on the ideal line just in front of me. I felt like driving on ice and had to start from 11th position, kick-starting a great comeback race, which I eventually finished in 2nd place. These setbacks were of course very annoying, however I didn't let myself being distracted, after 11 years of participation in the world championship indoor (and experience outdoor) I have went through enough bad luck to put myself over it quickly.

6 wk18 tegenslag

Equality of the karts
The equality of the karts was fantastic this year. In all of my 8 qualifier races I was battling for the victory, in 8 different karts that were not identical, but close enough to be able to make the difference as a driver. This has been different in the past. Nothing is so frustrating as a slower driving beating you with some too fast kart, or drawing a relatively easy group but scoring a bad result as you simply have a kart which is too slow to challenge your direct opponents. This was almost never the case this year, with every kart a podium position was possible something many top drivers proved. Luckily not all of them, because after day 4 I was in second place in the ranking, leaving me a very good starting position for the final day. Only the fast Polish driver Michal Grzyb was one point ahead of me. Many strong rivals and international top drivers such as Sebastian Papke, Yoan Medart, Rico Haarbosch, Romano Franssen, Mathias Grooten, Dennis Höller and Giovanni Baccellieri spoiled some points and were well behind in the standings.

7 wk18 gelijkheid vd karts

Overtaking and tactics
Strategy is an essential part of success during big tournaments, only pure speed is not enough and strategy gives you the opportunity to deal with the circumstances in a smart way. Strategy includes tactics, when to make a pitstop, but also on which moment during the race you have to attack another driver or when you have to be patient. Tactics always has been some of my key strengths, and so was it during this world championship. Making a late pitstop waiting for rivals to starting fighting with each other after their pitstop or running into backmarkers is often a good option. This year however the overheating of the tyres made an undercut pitstop strategy interesting, as tyres could cool down and laptimes often improved after making a pitstop. How much risk do you take while making a pitstop, something causing many errors in the pack. Don't be tempted to leave early when having a 2-second lead in the race. Further my overtakes have been crucial this year, not only when driving back from 11th on the grid to 2nd at the finish line in race 2, but also when taking the lead going into the first corner of the semi final from position 2. After some rain we drove on a wet outdoor track for the first time this week, and with some defensive lines I was able to secure an important win, giving me the championship lead going into the final for the third year in a row.

8 wk18 inhalen en tactiek

The final started with the knock-out battle qualification, extremely important for collecting extra points but moreover for selecting a decent kart to drive the final. This is the moment to shine, to show who really is the fastest driver in one lap. In recent years I was not always able to drive my best laps in these battles, something I definitely wanted to change this time. My battles went superb, I won all of them, beating top drivers as Dennis and Rico. The difference with Dennis was very small, after both of us winning our semi final, Dennis showed that he deserved much more this year than only a place in the top 10, but due to ups and downs and some bad luck there was no place on the podium for him this year. After my last battle I could choose my kart, but the best kart was certainly not there to choose from. In his penultimate battle Michal Grzyb gave this kart away to Jakub Klek, my closest rival in the ranking, trying to give me a less good kart. Luckily I won my last battle, so I still had a good kart, but boy this was a tricky situation with the 55-lap final waiting for us. I knew what to do, finishing in the top-3 would do at all time. But with 19 drivers hunting me down, it was very exciting. The race went very well, I could let Rico by in the beginning of the race, while Klek opted for an early pitstop which virtually brought him the lead in the race. The other drivers couldn't follow, a perfect situation for me as I just followed Rico and didn't take any risks during my pitstop. After 55 laps the championship was over, I was champion again, again CHAMPION!!!!

9 wk18 finale

After the final I put my hands in the air, in contrast to two years ago, it was now me who was 2 points on the right side of the line. I made the maximum out of it this week and the satisfaction was mega. The number one belongs to me for another year, the largest trophy is going with me to the Netherlands again, what an honour. The top 5 consisted furthermore of home driver Jakub Klek who won the final, Rico Haarbosch who came back very strong and made it to the podium for the third year in a row, Polish Michal Grzyb at 4 and a very strong Christophe Verhoeven from Belgian at place 5. I received many congratulations, posed for pictures with some young fans. The appreciation I got from fellow drivers from all over the world was incredible. The trophy I could lift on the final podium was so beautiful that I wanted to take it with me on every picture, no problem that it was so heavy that I could hardly lift it with one hand. From different media various request for interviews came in and some nice articles were written about my renewed success. An amazing experiences and a fantastic title, which makes me very proud again. Next year I will travel to the other side of the ocean to race again in the United States for the first time since Phoenix 2010. In Charlotte, North Caroline we will battle again at the track of Victory Lane Karting, I can't wait.

Thanks to Edyta Paleczka for the pictures.

Congratulations to the other champions:
Juniors: Rico Haarbosch (NL
Women: Selina Balneger (NL)
Masters: Artur Pel (PL)
Teams: Traxxis Racing Team (BE)

10 wk18 waardering

12 hours of Eupener Karting

BlueStar Racing Team with two teams on the podium
Eupener, 19/20 June 2018

The 2018 edition of the 12 hour nightrace at Karting Eupen was scheduled for the night of 19 to 20 June. Together with my fellow Dutch BlueStar teammates Christian Douven and Romano Franssen I represented BlueStar 1. Our second team was another very strong line up featuring Mathias Grooten, Logan Sougne and Yoan Medart. We faced plenty of other strong international teams in a 25-teams starting grid. Romano drove our qualification and was able to start the race from 4th position. In the past 2 years I won the race together with Romano (and Rico Haarbosch who was now driving for another team) and I was happy to be with him in the same squad again. Although Romano was struggling in the beginning of the race, he was amazingly fast again in later stages of the race. Christina is one of the youngster is our team but very fast in Eupen, a track he is used to drive. We had to do a couple of stints with 95kg instead of 85 and Christian did one in the beginning of the race, followed by a double stint on 95kg from me. We had to complete 13 stints of c.55 minutes in total, and we decided to all start with double stints. Almost halfway through the race we noticed it was not going exactly as planned, we were almost one and a half lap down on the leaders, which were on a slightly different strategy in terms of 95kg stints and pitstops, but we had to make up time.

180520 12h eupen BS2 2180520 12h eupen BS1 2

Romano was in the kart when the direction change took place just passed the halfway point. The safety kart entered the track which diminished the differences between the leaders and the rest of the field. There were basically 5 teams going for the podium positions, being Modave and BlueStar 2 who were currently battling for the lead, followed by Acquity Racing, KGR and our team. In the second part of the race we were very strong. I found a better rhythm and I felt more comfortable with the extreme grip level on the track. I lowered the track record on 85kg and drove back into the top 3 with back to back stints from Christian and me. With a bit more than an hour to go we were only 30 seconds behind the leaders, which was Modave with the fast French speaking drivers Kaivers, Paoleschi and Delvenne. They seemed to be to far away, but after a small problem for them in the pit we closed in to no more than 10 seconds! Chrsitian stepped in the kart for the final stint and he was lapping the same laptimes as Kaivers in front of us.

In the last minute of the race Kaivers found another few tenths of a second and so our hopes were declining and we realized we would have to settle for 2nd in this 12 hour.

180520 12h eupen podium