Ruben Boutens

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

Spanish National Qualifier Series

Ruben back to Karting Rivas for Spanish NQS
Madrid, 25 March 2018

Like every year, I always try to engage in new races, against new competitors and on different tracks. First of all because it is fun to travel to new places, but also because it makes you a better driver. This year I chose to take part in the Spanish National Qualifier Series (NQS), organized by Jose Burillo and Ana Pozuelo in cooperation with the beautiful track of Karting Rivas in Madrid. NQS are international championships where you can qualify for the Kart World Championship and they are often well organized and have a high level of drivers. Together with my friend Rico Haarbosch I travelled to Spain on Saturday morning the 24th of March, departing from Brussels. In Madrid my father and grandfather were waiting for us. As my grandfather is 93 years old, it was very special to make this trip with him and show him the place where I became world champion for the first time only last year. The weather was quite nice although a lot colder than we were used to during the KWC last year, but for the time of the year not bad at all. On Saturday we did 8 training sessions (4 in each direction) and it was great to be back here. We were warmly welcomed by many drivers and the track staff. It was amazing how many people asked to make a photo together with us during the weekend, a great pleasure and honor at the same time.

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The track was slightly different compared to the track we drove at the KWC last year, we drove the normal Sodi karts this time and it was a lot of fun. There were approximately 70 drivers which were all Spanish except from the two of us. The event setup was different than usual, as all heats were based on timing only and no racing element was involved. Maybe this sounds a bit boring and although I missed the tactical element, it is a very fair way of comparing your skills with your rivals. After practice we enjoyed a Spanish dinner and on Sunday morning we were excited to start the competition. We first drove 4 heats while changing karts with 3 other drivers, the fastest time per heat counted. Then the 2 fastest of each group plus the best 3rd places went through to the knock-stage of the tournament with 40 drivers. I won my group fairly easy and now faced a driver who was second in one of the other groups. We now just drove 1 lap, changed kart and then another lap to see who advances to the next round. I could win my first two rounds and then had to race against Christian Perez, one of the fastest Spanish drivers also featuring in last year’s KWC. This time the difference was only half a second, luckily to my advantage and I moved onto the final round with the last 5 drivers.

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This final included 5 laps in 5 different karts, and it was between Busian Fontan, Jon del Valle, Fernando Lara, Rico and myself. We drove in the reverse direction and unfortunately I had to start first on a slightly dirty track as the karts were standing still for about 20 minutes. This lap was not my fastest and that was a shame, because I knew the differences would be very small and it could cost me dearly. In my remaining 4 karts I did 3 great laps and made 1 small mistake, maybe one of the few during the entire day but not a good moment. Then we jumped out of the kart running to the scoreboard which would tell us the final result. Quickly I discovered I was not the winner which was disappointing, but with a top 3 so close (between 0.25 of a second adding up all 5 times), it was still a very nice podium with Rico coming out on top this time. Splitting us, it was Spanish talent Jon del Valle who surprised me again, a very strong performance from him and a well-deserved second place! All in all it was a great weekend which we enjoyed a lot, and as I finished 3rd I could take home my 15th trophy in 16 participations in 16 KWC National Qualifier Series, something I’m really proud of as no other driver comes close to this. I hope to score my 10 NQS victory later this year! I would like to thank all Spanish people for having us in Madrid, and hope to see everyone again later this year during the KWC in Poland.

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