Ruben Boutens

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

Polish Indoor Kart Championship 2016

European indoorkart community gathers in Poland
Szczecin, May 7-8

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In the weekend of May 7th and 8th 2016 the fifth edition of the Polish Indoor Kart Championship took place at Silver Hotel & Gokart Centre in Szczecin, Poland. What started like a small event in 2012, has grown very rapidly to one of the most prestigious and high-quality events on the yearly calendar of every rental kart racer. The immense popularity of the Polish KWC qualifier is the result of hard work and dedication of the organisers of the event, Bartosz Malutko and Remigiusz Drzazga together with a team of marshals and officials. This year the event was sold out with no less than 112 senior and 28 junior drivers within a few weeks after the announcement of the date. I was lucky to be one of these 112 drivers, and after my victory of last year I had the honour to have my name on a big banner which was placed at the podium area of the kart track showing the names of all 4 previous winners. As a reigning champion it’s fair to say my goal was to defend that title, although I already knew this was not going to be easy at all. On Friday May 6th the official practice day took place and every had a chance to discover the new layout of the track, both in normal and reverse direction. The track appeared to be very much fun and gave good opportunities to overtake. Together with a couple of my Dutch friends and my Bluestar Racing teammates who also arrived in Poland I did some practice sessions in both directions.

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On Saturday morning the event kicked off with a long briefing where all procedures and potential penalties were explained, afterwards a group picture was taken and all drivers could collect their goodie bag! 55 races were scheduled, 50 qualifying heats, 3 semi finals and a final for both the Junior and Senior category. In all races you had to do a one lap qualifying, perform one pitstop and the sum of points collected during all the rounds (minus a drop result from the qualifying heats) would decide the final classification. On the first day, under very warm and sunny circumstances, all drivers in every class drove 3 heats. In my first two heats I had nice battles with, amongst others, Polish Jakub Klek and Belgian Stefan Verhofste. I finished my first race in second place and scored a victory in the second one. My first day however didn’t end like I hoped, as I ended up in the boarding of the track after a clumsy move by a German competitor whilst leading the race holding both pole position and fastest racelap (both worth 0.5 extra point). This cost me dearly in the ranking as my main rival Sebastian Papke scored a hat trick of victories on day 1.

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After a nice evening in the hotel with a fantastic atmosphere amongst all drivers and fans, everyone prepared for a second day full of tension and adrenaline. Today all big trophies were on the line and already on the first day many people could not control their nerves as especially during the pitstops a lot of mistakes were made. My 4th and 5th heat went particularly well with both first places and also the quickest lap time of the whole weekend on 90kg with a 37.53! The confidence was there and I moved up to 2nd place in the ranking, a few points behind the ‘man to beat’ Sebastian Papke and ahead of the other strong German Christian Wolf and my Dutch roommate and reigning junior world champion Lorenzo Stolk. Moving into the semi finals I could not complain about the karts I had driven in the heats, but now I didn’t draw the best possible one. But after many championships I know that winning a title is often the result of performing well in less good karts as well, so that was what I tried to do in my semi final. 36 drivers gave it all to try to collect their desired spot in the big final for the best 10 drivers. I managed to end up in 3rd position during my semi after qualifying 4th. This was not ideal for me as Papke and Wolf both won their races.

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The final 10 drivers were Mateusz Bartsch (Poland), Artur Pel (Poland), Yoan Medart (Belgium), Bjorn Vermeulen (Belgium), Tristan Foldesi (Belgium), Cristoph Maliszewski (Germany), Lorenzo Stolk (Holland), myself, Christian Wolf (Germany) and Sebastian Papke (Germany). In this sequence everyone had the opportunity to set a laptime in one and the same kart to determine the final starting grid, top 3 scored extra points. My lap was not very good, a pity because my hotlaps this weekend proved to be very decent and now I qualified only 4th, 0.09 second down on the pole lap time of Papke and just behind Stolk and Foldesi. In the final I drove one of my best races, overtaking the 2 young guys in front of me and chasing Sebastian for the duration of 36 laps in the final. After exchanging fastest lap time several times Sebastian won the race hardly one second ahead of me. Christian Wolf was also strong and with a 3rd place in the final he secured a 2nd place in the championship behind Sebastian Papke. This meant I ended up in 3rd, a result I could live with given the top class quality of the field. Being here on the final podium for a third consecutive year feels really good and looking back at all my races while collecting a handful of nice prizes, I could only be satisfied with my performance.

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I want to congratulate all podium finishers in the different categories; Artur Pel won both the masters title and more important the Polish national championship ahead of Mateusz Bartsch and Michal Ryndzionek, which gave all these 3 drivers a KWC ticket like Sebastian Papke. Selina Balneger (11th place in the general ranking) and Mellanie Motz finished on top of the ladies championship for Holland, while fast lady Edyta Paleczka showed her talent and finished up in a nice 3rd position just before my sister Annelien! In the separate event for Junior drivers, it was Tristan Foldesi who dominated the championship, he won all races and defeated my Dutch Value teammate Rico Haarbosch and Thom van Dijk also from the Netherlands. I want to thank all Polish people for their very friendly and welcoming attitude to all international drivers, this is a very special weekend for many kart drivers and will likely also stay like this in future years. I definitely hope to come back again next year for PIKC 2017 and look already forward to race against many PIKC participants during the Kart World Championship in Italy this year in upcoming July, see you there!

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