Ruben Boutens

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

British Rental Kart Championship 2016

Ruben in top shape to claim third consecutive title
Milton Keynes, January 15-17th

It’s very early on Friday morning 15th of January 2016 and raining hard in the Netherlands. For a moment I wish I was in a warm and sunny country. I’m not sure if Great-Britain in that case would be the place to be at the moment, but regardless of the weather conditions I had good reasons to step into our car and start a road- and boat trip towards to United Kingdom. The British Rental Kart Championship was about to begin, a championship I’d rather not miss since the time it is organised at Formula Fast Karting. Both the organisation (Bradley Philpot) and the crew of the kart track have proven to be exceptionally professional over the past years in organising a rental go-kart event. Together with 4 Dutch friends and some of our parents we entered the boat with a delay of more than an hour. Entering the UK means we use miles, not kilometres, we pay in pounds, not in Euro’s, we talk in English instead of Dutch, and quite importantly, we drive on the left hand side of the road, not on the right. I love to come in England, not in the last place because the people are very nice and sport minded, but also because there is the BRKC. Seven out of eight times I have been in the UK was because of karting, mostly BRKC. Over the past two years, with the great new one-weekend set-up of this KWC qualifier, I managed to win the event twice.

brkc 1 ruben focus

After two sessions of practice we went to the hotel on Friday evening, the pace was good and I immediately felt comfortable on the track again. While traditionally taking a sauna in our hotel I was looking forward to the start of the weekend, 40 heat races were in the planning and that means BRKC 2016 was completely sold out, 100 drivers from many different countries, what an entry list starring multiple British and European top drivers. While the heat was certainly on in my sauna, I expected the heat to be on tomorrow as well on track! Some of the unique features of BRKC proved themselves again on the first day of racing. To start we have the commentary of James Auld, a BRKC legend who has a voice of steel that can produce clear sound for 48 consecutive hours, simply incredible. Live streaming is another, many people can follow the races from behind their desk and that makes the event internationally well known and popular. It is via live streaming that many of my Dutch friends saw me taking two victories on Saturday, a great start of my weekend and especially my hotlaps were good, I could take it easy during the pit stops, which gives some comfort. Despite winning 2 heats quite easily, I noticed the level of my opponents is again very high, something that keeps you sharp and challenged. I know (I hope) that four more races are to come and only the last one crucial to win, my goal is the final and nothing else.

brkc 2 ruben boven

On Sunday morning I felt a bit more nervous than on Saturday, it was snowing outside and we had to be on track early as Annelien was in the very first session of the day. Annelien was very fast again, like previous years, she won 2 races and finished 2nd once so far, the track seems to suit us particularly well. I observed the track, preparing for my 3rd heat. I knew today my 2 heats were strong, directly facing Ed White, the talented British guy who deemed unbeatable last year, until the final. I knew I had to put in a hotlap without mistakes. I was able to drive my best lap of the weekend, assuring me pole position by over 3 tenths of a second, wow! In the race Ed didn’t let me run away easily, though I could win the race without being in real danger. When I went upstairs again I realised I had beaten the track record during qualifying. I was asked to come to James Auld and Will Buxton for an interview. After this race I knew the eyes were on me, people literally quoted I had a big target on my back now! Of course this is nice, many people showed great respect and appreciation, but on the other hand the pressure increased. In the previous 2 years many people saw me as one of the favourites, but probably not the big favourite. This time it was different but I knew I had nothing in hand yet, luckily I like some pressure especially when feeling confident.

brkc 3 inhaal

The 4th heat which was on the alternate layout like the 2nd race was my toughest heat, though I won it with good margin as other top drivers like Russel Endean, Stefan Verhofste, Matt Bartsch and Bjorn Vermeulen battled hard over 2nd place. The excitement rose as the ranking for the semi-finals was published, some disappointed as they just missed out, others very happy as they made it and/or avoided the strong first semi final! I was in that first semi and faced my sister, my The Dutch Value teammate Corné Snoep and other frontrunners like Ed White, Oliver Bayani and Stefan Verhofste. The kart differences are typically very small at Formula Fast, resulting from hard working mechanics and definitely worth a big compliment. If you talk about kart differences here, it is 1 or maybe 2 tenths of a second a lap. In my semi final I experienced once more that even these smallest differences are essential for the result. I qualified 3rd just behind Oliver Bayani and Stefan Verhofsté. It was very slippery on the track and the top 3 slowly build up a lead over the rest of the field. In the first couple of laps I had to give everything not to let Oliver and Stefan go. Then almost halfway through the race I found some extra pace again and decided to pit, taking some risks this time. My pitstop was very good but Stefan still came out in front a few laps later. Together we put down some very good laptimes and virtually overtook Oliver. At that moment I overtook Stefan and I won the race, a very nice result for me.

brkc james ruben

The other two semi finals were won by British Lewis Manley (3rd in 2014) and Lee Hackett (2-times champion), their eyes were certainly on the big trophies. The Dutch team drove extremely well this weekend, all regularly finishing in top positions, but some disappointing results in the semi finals resulted in the fact that I was the only Dutchman in the final. Especially The Dutch Value mate Rico Haarbosch and sister Annelien were really close, but just missed out. The final was set with Oliver Bayani (Gb), Bradley Philpot (Gb), Matt Bartsch (Pl), Ed White (Gb), Sean Brierly (Gb), Regis Gosselin (Be), Stefan Verhofste (Be), Lee Hackett (Gb), Lewis Manley (Gb) and I. this was also the order for the one lap qualifying, all in the same kart. Now every mistake counts, this is the moment to shine! The top 5 was very close again, but I was not the one in pole position, I qualified 2nd just behind Stefan Verhofste. Luckily I was the one to first pick my kart for the grand final, so I knew I had one of the better karts. The final was a 30-minute race including 2 pitstops, the grid was set and the tension was there. In the first lap I already felt my kart was really good. I positioned myself right and in the third lap I took the lead on the exact same position as where I did it in the previous 2 years. This was the moment and it worked out. I gave everything to pull away and I managed to build up a lead, improving my own lap record while others were fighting hard over positions. Lewis Manley worked his way up from 4th to 2nd, while Stefan could hold off the others to claim another podium spot and thereby again a KWC entry ticket.

brkc ruben bradley

For me the race went perfect, I was able to finish the weekend like I wanted, winning the final for the 3rd consecutive time, what-a-feeling!!! It is amazing to win such an event, but to complete the hat trick is super special. I can only say thank you to everyone who helped making this event what it is and also to the people who supported me during the weekend, at the side of the track or from Holland! Taking home the 1000 pound prize money, the KWC entry ticket and especially the biggest trophy is another dream come through. Last year I received many congratulations, including from Genevieve Reason who at that time was part of the Formula Fast crew. Later that year she died in a dramatic car accident, for me a strong reason to dedicate this victory to her! I hope to be back again next year, hopefully with another shot at the title.

Photos: Tim Andrew

brkc 5 podium

BRKC Preview

Ruben goes to England again for BRKC 2016
Milton Keynes, January 15-17th 2016

Since 2014 the British Rental Kart Championship takes place at the indoor track of Formula Fast at Milton Keynes in January. As a KWC qualifying event BRKC attracts many British and foreign drivers every year and its popularity is ever growing. This year a record number of 100 entries has been reached, all aiming for the biggest cup and the 2016 BRKC title. Together with my Dutch Value teammates Corné Snoep and Rico Haarbosch and a handful of other Dutch drivers including my sister Annelien (2nd in 2014), Lorenzo Stolk, Thom van Dijk and Anne D’Hondt we will travel to the UK this year. Having won the title for 2 years in a row, I’ll go for the best possible result in every single race again this year. Many local and European drivers will give make the competition fierce again this year, like Britain’s Ed White (3rd in 2015), Lee Hackett (2x former champion), Lewis Manley (3rd in 2014), Michael O’Brien (2015 finalist), Polish Mateusz Bartsch (2015 finalist) and Belgian Stefan Verhofste (2nd in 2015). Official practice starts at Friday 15th of January. This year 2 different layouts will be used to challenge all drivers again. The championship format hasn’t changed much compared to last year, 90kg minimum weight, 4 heats of 20 minutes (divided in 10 groups of 10 per round, 1 pitstop) will set the ranking to determine the 30 semi-finalists. Only the 10 best drivers will go through to the big final. The 30 minute final including 2 pitstops will unveil the champion, winning the final means winning the title, the prize money and a KWC entry ticket.

The event will be fully broadcasted online with commentating of the legendary James Auld, don’t miss it: