Ruben Boutens

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

British Rental Kart Championship 2018

Ruben makes it an incredible five in a row in the UK
Milton Keynes (GB), 19-21 January

It is early January, the start of another year in my karting career and BRKC approaching means the start of a fantastic pipeline of KWC National qualifiers series. The number of Facebook notifications is increasing day by day as the BRKC Facebook group is coming back to life, it is on fire actually. And whether this fire is used to prepare pizzas or to heat up the ever so cold area of Milton Keynes, I don’t really mind, I just cannot wait to step into the car again to go. BRKC is most likely my favorite KWC qualifier series, and not only because the track suits my driving style so much or because I won it already 4 times. It is a combination of many more things. When I arrive at Formula Fast it feels a little bit like coming home, Lewis Manley immediately tells me my exact heat times and which rivals I will face during the weekend. He tells me he can’t wait to race me on Sunday afternoon in heat round 4, and so do I look forward to this. Lewis is just one of many excellent competitors who feature in BRKC, before racing him I will face plenty of other strong drivers. So let’s first focus on some two practice heats. It is always a bit exciting to go out after a year again, I hope I will still be able to do the same as the years before. But when I see Ollie Demetrios Fox and Phil Stanley sitting down behind their desk or on the main marshall post on the track, I calm down. I know with these kind of guys, the organization, the kart reliability and the kart parity is in very good hands. And it is not only because of them, many members of the track staff are familiar faces who know what to do and are part of the extending success of the BRKC at Formula Fast.

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I come back from my first training session, ended up second. I knew my pace was good, but 2nd place means I drop a bit in the Formula Fast club ranking, I don’t like this. I saw the names of Dalton and Dylan Norris topping the ranking, the guys who supported me during last year’s event and were present again during the weekend, probably my rivals here in a few years time. I go back upstairs and Lewis reminds me of my winning streak of 13 races lasting for almost 3 years now, this guy knows everything. But hey, this winning streak is not only credits to me, only when karts are very equal you have the chance to win time after time again, in fact it is just an honorary mentioning of Formula Fast’s kart parity, which is incredible. Back to why I like the BRKC so much in comparison with other championships. The way BRKC is presented to the karting community and outside world is from a different level. Bradley Philpot makes sure the website is better than many professional web designers could produce, the commentating of James Auld which comes live and together with the broadcasting of Darren S Cook’s team in the living rooms of so many people all over Europe during the weekend, it makes BRKC just a bit more special than other championships. In my opinion this is the best advertisement the indoor or rental kart sport could get, much more professional you can’t make it and this is definitely a game changer. When people see me and many other drivers race during BRKC via the live-stream, with interviews by the newest addition to BRKC, Richard Spanners Ready, right after the race, people start looking to indoor karting with more respect than ever before. BRKC is pure entertainment and that’s where sport is all about.

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I’m enjoying breakfast inside the inspiring stadium of the Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday morning, ready to head to Formula Fast for my first 2 heats today. When I arrive at the track I see a lot of familiar faces again. A handful of people come to me and say something like: “Hey Ruben, ready to come and pick up number 5 this weekend?” Some of them (not only drivers) really mean it, they think it really is that easy for me to win year after year again. I know some of them try to make me more nervous, they know very well how hard it is and might try to put the pressure on me. But I nicely reply all with something like: “I hope so but let’s see what will happen because the competition is very strong again this year!” I know the pressure is on me, especially after my world title in indoor karting of last summer, but what can I change about it. Nevertheless I am nervous for my first race of the day, but at the same time, I’m ready for it. My qualification is good, I take pole position but only just ahead of the entire top 6 which is within a tenth and a half! In the race I can pull away and win my 14th race in a row here. Later on during the day I face serious competition of both Dan Healey and Sean Brierley who are chasing me hard on the alternate layout, but I conclude my day with 2 wins and can enjoy the other action with a satisfied feeling.

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My highlight of the day however comes from my sister, being out of karting for more than 9 months because of a persisting neck injury. I sport already together with Annelien since a very young age, whether it is in judo or in karting, going without here does feel a bit odd. On Friday I already knew she was still very fast, proving me right in her first race of the day by finishing in a very strong second position behind one of the title contenders Matt Bartsch. I cheer harder for her than for myself, always share part of my prize money with her and although I know her injury is not yet gone, I really did me good to see her being one of the frontrunners again. Talking about Matt Bartsch, on Sunday morning he ended my winning streak by beating me in heat 3. As I said to Richard Spanners Ready in the post-race interview, I prefer to end my streak now than in the final. I had to move on and knew I still had a good position, only Jonny Elliott and Sam Spinnael made it 3 wins out of 3. Heat 4 was probably my coolest one, having to start with a cold kart which is always a serious disadvantages in the qualification and the early stages of the race. I was lucky to grab 3rd position on the grid with the smallest of margins (0.001) over 4th place. This was crucial however, as Lewis Manley sprinted away from pole position and I first had to overcome Jacob Lewis. When I did so, my hunt for Lewis started, inch by inch I got closer and when the tires got up to temperature, I got him into sight again. For the first time this weekend I had to take risks during my pitstop, knowing that Lewis pitted just a few laps before me when I had almost closed the gap. This was to my advantage, as I now had the opportunity to jump him via the inside line coming out of the pits, and so it happened. My girlfriend Edyta finished in a very strong 5th place this same race! I was very happy with this important win, and also winning my semi-final made me climb back to the number one spot before going into the final again.

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I had my list of karts prepared, I was happy I just needed the top one on this list, but given the kart parity, it was not even easy to choose which was the best kart. I decided to go for number 13, the kart I drove in the first race of the weekend and was fast in all semi-finals. I was focused on my hotlap qualification, everyone knew it was going to be close again, but somehow this time I had my nerves under control. This didn’t save me from making a small error going into the main hairpin, missing the apex by a bit, the rest of my lap was pretty good. I made it to second place, just 0.005 apart from my BlueStar teammate, one of the top rookies in this tournament, Yoan Medart was amazing all weekend and as I knew he had the third kart pick, I knew I had a serious race on my hands. In the first few laps Yoan blocked nicely and I was starting to be worried, some guys behind us made their first pitstop and then you know you have to be very alert. Especially Ed White and Thom van Dijk were lapping incredibly fast laptimes which made me realize I had to make a move soon. For the 4th time in 5 years I could grab the lead going into the hairpin at the end of the straight, overtaking Yoan and trying to set the pace. But Yoan kept with me, while Thom was putting down the same laptimes as well. My fellow countryman Thom is one of the upcoming Dutch talents and like last year, very strong at Formula Fast again. All I could do was trying to lower my laptimes, stay consistent and don’t make any mistakes. After like 15 minutes a small gap to Yoan was initiated and I knew I now had to focus on my pitstops and on Thom. A quick calculation within my kart told me I had an advantage of around 23 seconds to Thom, implying 2 pitstops which didn’t have to be on the ultimate limit. However Yoan stopped before me and after his 2 pitstops he fell back well after Thom, my heartbeat went up.

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Fulfilling my pitstops was a big relief, I saw 4 green lights and came out of the pitstop with a one-and-a-half second gap to Thom with only a handful of laps to go. I knew by then, my 5th title was up for grab and this was a very special feeling. Winning never gets boring, but winning BRKC is always a very big honor. I’m super grateful for the respect I received again during the weekend and of course also after the finish of the final race. I honestly feel like I’m just one of the 100 competitors every year again, but at the same time, I’m very proud of my 5th consecutive championship here as well, the trophy will certainly get a prominent place at home. I’m having a final chat with James Auld and Lewis Manley, my hair smells to champagne quite badly and the journey back is waiting for us. 2018 has started fantastic again for me, I look over my shoulder to give the track probably my last look of this year, grab the trophy and move on in the direction of Holland. I hope to see all racers again during one of the other KWC (qualifier) events this year, and if not, see you hopefully next year at Formula Fast.

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