Ruben Boutens

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

Belgian National Championship

Ruben adds another big title to his resume
Dolhain (Be), 18 November 2018

The third edition of the Belgian National Championship (BNC), the official Belgian KWC qualifier event, was held at Sunday the 18th of November 2018. A third edition with a cracking and sold-out entry list of 68 top level drivers, mostly from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The location for this championship was the track of Hurricane Dolhain Kart in the East of Belgium. This time the event was held on a single day, which implied a fully packed day of racing with 4 groups of 17 drivers for all qualifying heat races. A week before the event I drove a 4-hour race together with Tristan Foldesi which served as a good preparation. In addition, I also drove 2 practice session on Saturday evening before race day. I felt comfortable on the track but with so many good drivers I knew there was no space for mistakes today, especially my qualifications had to be spot on today. In the first two races I took pole position and this was the basis for winning the race in both heats. A very good start which was interrupted in the third race. Here it was 2016 Indoor Kart World champion Rico Haarbosch that took his third win in a row, whilst I finished in 3rd behind Rico and BlueStar teammate Christian Douven.

I was able to win the fourth race after having started from 2nd place, as I overtook my other BlueStar teammate Logan Sougne in the first corner. I was chased by 2016 BNC champion Benjamin Kaivers in this race but could hold him off until the finish line. Today the preliminary rounds were focused on scoring good points in order to be able to pick a good kart in the final. The winner of the final would become the new champion and thus were the points only important for the kart pick in the final. In my 5th race I faced Rico and Benjamin again and I drove a very exciting race against Rico, lowering the best laptimes of today during the race. I just came short to beat Rico but the 2nd place was good enough to qualify 2nd in the ranking for the semifinal, 5 points behind Rico en 5.5 in front of the super-fast home driver Yoan Medart. The semifinal included 25 laps (instead of 20 in the heats) and 2 shortcuts instead of 1. I was in the second semifinal and witnessed an interesting first race. It was German Marc Schings who was too fast for the rest of the field, finishing ahead of Yoan and the young Dutch talent Guillermo van Pamelen. Rico had a tough race and finished in 6th position. In the second semifinal I qualified in second place behind Benjamin Kaivers, who I faced in almost all my races today. After he made a shortcut early on in the race, I could increase the pace and jumped him after making my first shortcut. Logan was also close behind and after my shortcut Benjamin also improved his laptimes and followed me closely. I decided to make another shortcut, but Benjamin responded quickly and came out again behind me. I had to defend a couple of laps but on some parts of the track it was hard to overtake so I kept the pace high and managed to win the race.

My 4th victory of today and this brought me back in the lead going into the final, giving me the advantage of the first kart pick. Several top drivers didn’t make it into the final 10, including defending champion Mats de Jong, Tristan Foldesi and Dennis Holler, indicating the insane level of drivers. The 10 closest karts were selected and I picked number 6 which was good in the last couple of races. I think there were 2 other karts which were as fast as this one, the qualification for the final would be even more crucial. All 10 drivers had to drive 3 laps in 3 different karts, an exciting qualification with very close laptimes. I drove very decent laps but I came short 0.04 after 3 laps to take pole position, it was Rico who managed to take pole and Benjamin in third. I knew however that I had a good kart under my ass and hence everything still to play for with 40 laps and 2 shortcuts awaiting in the grand final. The track was very cold and Rico went for a quick shortcut in lap 2 of the race, giving me space to drive my own pace and I quickly started to close in on him. Especially in the first 10 laps I won a lot of time and managed to overtake him with my first shortcut. Benjamin followed quickly after and also jumped Rico for 2nd place. Yoan was still close in 4th while the other finalist, being Douven, Bredohl, Schings, Sougne, Haglestein and Martens were also showing great speed but lost time on the top 3 positions. Benjamin was pushing hard and tried to undercut me with his second shortcut. I countered one lap after and managed to just stay in front, a very close call and the tension was far from gone yet. Rico waited with his second shortcut and that was the sign for me to not start defending hard, as he then might overtake us again. Luckily Benjamin thought the same and the laps were going down quickly. Yoan then was faster than Rico and also tried to make an undercut, but Rico quickly responded and kept his third place. From that moment I knew the victory was close for me and I could defend slightly more where needed.

After 40 laps the chequered flag was waved and I could raise my hands high in the air, I won it! Another big title I never won before and this made me very, very happy. With this field of drivers, it felt even more special to win and it was an honour to receive the trophy and KWC ticket from organizers Mathias Grooten and Gregory Laporte on the podium. In second and third place finished Benjamin and Rico, both well deserved although I have to mention that Yoan was today also one of the absolute frontrunners who would have deserved more than the always doubtful honour of the 4th position. An amazing championship which makes my year even more special. Congratulations also to the other winners, Selina Balneger (women), Kris Cools (Masters) and Christian Douven (Juniors). The atmosphere has been great on and off the track all day and despite a short break because of a failure of the timing system, the organization ran smoothly and without any difficulties, a big compliment to the karttrack, marshals and the organizers. I hope to be back next year to defend my title!