Ruben Boutens

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

British Rental Kart Championship 2020

Magic winning streak comes to an end
Milton Keynes (GB), 18&19 January 2020

2020, start of a new decade and for the first race of the year I travelled to Great Britain again. Since 2013 I have been competing in Britain's premier rental kart competition and from 2014 onwards the one-weekend championship was organised at Formula Fast Karting in Milton Keynes, which was also the scene for this year's anniversary edition. The 10th edition of BRKC started with the official practice day on Friday 17 January, although many drivers already visited the track in the weeks before. Looking at the list of participations this year, the level increased again compared to previous years and I knew it would not be straightforward to go for another extension of my title streak, which I brought to six last year. It was great to be back at Formula Fast, greeting many familiar faces and getting ready for my first competition of the year. Similar to all previous years, I drove two practice heats on Friday which felt good. A few more practice heats would definitely help me, however combining all my kart weekends with work does not always allow me to arrive very early.

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On Saturday I was scheduled for only two heat races, of which my first one was a tough group immediately. In the one lap qualification my pace was not right there, I was probably a bit too careful and missed pole position by a tenth lining up in fourth behind Mats de Jong (pole) and Selina Balneger (second), two new drivers in BRKC but well known opponents in various races and championships over the past years. In front of me was Mateusz Bartsch, who attacked Selina in the first lap of the 20-minute race, but came on the outside of the corner and I could immediately overtake him. Selina then overtook Mats a few laps later, Mats appeared to be in a medium kart and that made his qualifying lap even better. I could also overtake Mats at the end of the straight and then set my target on Selina. I could close in and make a good move at the end of the straight, but I came from far away and just could not make it stick. From that moment Selina started defending and I knew I was in a difficult situation with Mats chasing us. So I decided to go for a relatively early pitstop, but Selina countered my undercut and stayed out in front. As she defended quite hard, Mats was virtually closing in on the lead rapidly and I decided to back off to try and go for second place. However Mats made his pitstop and just landed in the middle of us, and defended well until the end. Not an ideal start with a third place, but still a long weekend ahead of me.

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In race 2 I had my only group which was slightly more easy, and we drove it on the alternative lay-out which was prepared in the break after the first ten races. This race went smoothly, taking pole position with half a second and winning the race with a lead of almost 20 seconds! I enjoyed the remainder of the day watching plenty of other nice races, catching up with some other competitors and relaxing in the hotel while watching the live stream, BRKC still is the most professional championship in rental karting and a pleasure to follow via the live coverage.

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On Sunday I started with a very difficult group including some title contenders like Yoan Medart and Mathias Grooten who challenged me in different BRKC finals over the past 6 years. I now had a perfect qualification, giving me pole position with a 4-tenth gap to Mathias and Yoan. In the race I could quickly run away and then consolidate my lead as on race pace the top three was quite close. One more heat race to go and I was back in the top of the standings where I wanted to be. In my fourth group I didn't have the kart to challenge for the win, as some of my rivals including Wojciech Grzyb and Regis Gosselin had decent karts. I qualified in fourth again behind Remigiusz Drzazga and he covered the inside lines well when I was close behind him. I tried to overtake him with a pitstop later in the race, but came out behind him again. In his outlap however I managed to overtake him by undercutting him at the exit of one of the corners, giving me another third place in the end.

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Before the semi-finals, I was tied in sixth place in the ranking and only a few points behind leader Selina who was the only one to win all four race so far. I knew I was still fully in the race for another title, however I did need a good semi final as it was very close in points between all 30 semi-finalists. I was scheduled for the second semi-final, which was according to most people the strongest of the three, including reigning world champion Michael Schottler, Mathias Grooten, Mats de Jong, Matuesz Bartsch, Cedric Wauters, Ramon Pineiro and the Dutch youngsters Eliano de Vos and Guillermo van Pamelen who were both very strong this weekend. I drew kart 12, the kart Ed White had in the first semi. That was painful, Ed dropped back all the way to eight place and was one of the slowest in terms of lap times, while arguably one of the best drivers in that heat. I had to make a very difficult decision, keeping the kart and knowing in this group it would be very difficult to score a top 5 finish which I thought I would need for making the final, or changing for a cold one and being too slow in the beginning of the race. I opted for the latter given that there were 2 very good karts in the pit, but I drew number 15, I was not sure about the current performance of this kart.

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In the qualification I was last by a mile, which I already took into account when going for the switch and I was ready to fight in the race. In the beginning a lot of battles took place but I couldn't really capitalise with my cold kart, and when the race progressed I improved my laptimes considerably within 2 tenths of the leaders, but I stayed one of the slowest on the track. I knew I made a wrong decision to change, I could only overtake Cedric and my championship was over. After six years the title was going to a new driver and it was a pitty that I couldn't defend it in the final. A strange feeling to watch the final from the side of the track, but still I enjoyed it. The final was very exciting to watch with 10 top drivers in it, fighting for every position. It was Michal Grzyb who took pole position and never faced any of his opponents again in the final, a dominant performance from him and a well deserved title for Michael after his third-place finish of last year. Michael Schottler had to start from fifth place, and before he passed Mathias, Regis and Mats, he was too far behind Michael to still attack him, although he was the fastest driver in the final. The fight for third place was very close, although Mathias was on the bumper on Mats and Mats being hampered by a backmarker, Mats still managed to hold on to third place and could be very satisfied with this result. Another great edition of BRKC came to an end, not as successful as in previous years for me, not making the final of a kart championship for the first time in many years, but still I very much enjoyed the whole weekend and look forward to come back next year to go for my seventh title. I would like to congratulate the winners and thank the organisation for a great championship.

Photos courtesy of: Autographic Photography by Lee Marshall

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