Ruben Boutens

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

Polish Indoor Kart Championship

Ruben too late on fire to compete for title
Szczecin, 28/29 April 2018

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On the 26th of April I went to Poland again for my 5th participation in the Polish Indoor Kart Championship at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center in Szczecin. Always one of my favourite events, and this year extra special because of the new karts, the new track (including outdoor part) and the fact that this track will host this year’s Kart World Championship in July. On Friday I had my regular training sessions but I noticed many of my main rivals were already driving the day before (while I was at work :P) and I felt that after my 2 heats of practice in each direction, my speed was OK but I was not yet 100% comfortable with the karts and the track. On Saturday morning the first races kicked of in 8 groups of 20 people, totalling 160 participants in this 7th edition of the PIKC, an incredible field of drivers and a really high level. My first race went exactly as I hoped, I drew a decent kart and could do a safe qualification lap without making any mistakes resulting in pole position. During the race I could drive away from German Lars Ole Jens and Dutchman Romano Franssen, giving me some space when I made my pitstop. The new systems works very well as you no longer have to push any button, but the time is recorded via the transponder. I won the race including an extra point for fastest race lap.

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The weather was very good and during the day the outside and track temperature were rising. This gave a lot of difficulties while driving, as there was a lot of grip, making karts to start jumping easily. Besides that, tires were overheated quickly which caused the karts to go sliding on very annoying parts in the corners. I had to adjust my driving style a lot which gave me some problems in race 2 and 3 of day 1. In the second race I had a very tough group and with a somewhat less good kart I only managed to finished in 5th position after a difficult race. In race 3 I was in 5th place again when I drove the fastest lap of the race in the later stages of the race after changes my way driving. Now I knew for sure I was not fast enough today as finishing in 5th with fastest racelap is never a good result. I moved up to 4th because of a penalty of one of the drivers in front of me, leaving me in 11th place after day 1. I was already quite a lot of points behind championship leader and Belgian BlueStar teammate Yoan Medart.

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On day 2 I felt much more confident and had a better feeling with the karts. In race 4 I was facing two-time world champion Mathias Grooten for the second time and I qualified behind him in 2nd position, quite far off the pole position time. My race pace was however back where it should be, I could follow Mathias all race long and pulled off the fastest racelap as well. This time I was pretty happy with my second place and I moved back into the top 10 before going into the semi-final. I was in the first group and had to race against championship leader Yoan Medart. The qualification was now the KWC knock-out battle system which allowed you to pick your kart when winning a battle. I won my first three rounds, including the battle against top German driver Dennis Höller. In the final I was driving against Yoan and he out qualified me and had the first kart pick. I had a nice kart as well and could give him a so-called run for his money. I was close to Yoan for the entire race but had little chance to overtake him as he was covering the inside when needed and had some better top speed on the straights. For the 4th time in 5 races I took the fastest race lap and again I could be happy with my result.

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During the other 3 semi-finals I enjoyed a dive in the swimming pool of Silver and focused on my last race of the weekend. I was realistically too far away to go for the podium, but 5th place was for sure still possible. The qualification for the final was again a knock-out 1 versus 1 battle qualification. I won my first battle against Belgian Deloitte colleague Peter Neefs and then raced Mathias. I lost this battle unfortunately and had to start the race in 7th position. Sebastian Papke didn’t look as dominant during the weekend as in the previous years and he was very luck in the semi-final when he lost the battle to Giovanni Baccellieri but incidentally got the super kart. But now he showed great speed by winning the battle from first Mathias and then Yoan in the final. It was between Yoan and Sebastian for the title and what a race it was. Sebastian drove away slowly and took the fastest lap a number of times, which would be enough for him to claim the title. But Yoan was still in second place and a number of guys including 2016 world champion Rico Haarbosch were very close to the fastest lap time. I was battling with fellow countryman Romano for 6th position in the race and the championship, we had some nice overtakes and in the end Romano won it because he had a better pitstop. Michael Grzyb was very strong again in the final and overtook Mathias with his pitstop, he was the first Polish driver in the past years to realty fight with the top drivers for the podium positions, hats off!

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The final reached its climax in the final lap when Rico exited the pits and came side by side with Yoan on the outside of the first corner. It was on the limit and the race direction decided to wave an orange flag for Rico during this last lap, while Michael also slipped past Yoan in that some move. Rico didn’t slow down again and finished the race in second position, but he was put back to 4th (behind Yoan) after the race. Emotions all over the place and big disappointment especially for Yoan who seemed to be the strongest driver all weekend but lost his title in the final to Sebastian Papke. He was crowned PIKC champion for the 4th time in 5 years, an amazing achievement and if he will enter the KWC later this year, he will be one of the favourites for sure. Mathias claimed the 3rd position on the podium, which was his 2nd PIKC podium after his win in 2013. Fourth and fifth position were for Rico and Michael. The ladies category champion was Mellanie Motz from the Netherlands, while Thom van Dijk and Wouter Poleij won the junior and mini championships. Wouter was impressive as he qualified for the semi-final at the age of 12, a crazy performance in this pack of drivers!!! For me ‘only’ a 7th position which is the first time here I didn’t make it to the podium, but I was very happy with my performance on the second day. I would like to thank the entire organisation of the PIKC and I look very much forward to the KWC, if I can improve my qualifications a bit, I will be ready to defend my world title!

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