Ruben Boutens

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

8 hour nightrace Silver Hotel & Gokart Center

Ruben & Rico on fire in 3rd edition of Silver nightrace
Szczecin (PL), 28 October 2018

The third edition of the 8 hour nightrace at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center was organised in the weekend of 27 and 28 October 2018. After two successful editions in 2015 and 2016, The Dutch Value was also present during the 2018 edition. This time again with myself, after having won this race in 2015 together with Corne Snoep, together with Rico Haarbosch. Only a couple of months ago this beautiful track was the scene of a fantastic edition of the Indoor Kart World Championship, and the karts were ready to go again for a nice endurance race. A field of 13 teams lined up, including international flavour from Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and of course Poland. Before the start of the race we had a 30 minute free practice and 6 minutes qualification. In this session it was very close between a couple of teams, and in particular between Sebastian Papke from PPR RT (winners of the 2016 edition) and Rico from our team. Just a few hundreds of a second split the two for the fastest lap in the qualification. It was four time Polish Indoor Kart Champion Papke who ultimately took the pole position.

The start of the race was in Le Mans style, running to the kart to jump in and launching the 8 hour race at midnight. The outdoor part of the track was open for this race, but the circumstances were quite different from those during the world championship of last summer. At that time tarmac was flying around because of the heat, while it was now cold and sometimes rainy, making the track quite tricky. In the opening lap it started to drizzle outside which surprised Rico, creating a gap between us and the leader. Afterwards, Rico was fast and slowly started to close in on Sebastian and overtook him halfway through the first stint. We had 14 stints of c.35 minutes, and besides that we had to make 4 extra stops. We decided to start with double stints and everytime PPR RT got our gat of the stint before while we got the kart of Hussarya team Poland, one of the strongest Polish teams and a challenger for the win tonight. It was therefore easy to compare laptimes and in the second stint Rico seemed to be fast. Papke did 3 stints in a row and won time on us after having made his first extra pitstop to get in clean air. Hussarya was closing in on us as well, and they had a strong line up including the numbers 2 and 4 of the past world championship, Jakub Klek and Michal Grzyb.

In the 3rd stint I came out on track for the first time and took over the kart from Klek. It was very nice to see that I was slightly faster as him in this kart, and we could virtually take back the lead from PPR RT in this stint. In the fourth stint I could further increase the lead by bringing the fastest racelap so far to 49.34, every team got all the 14 different karts during the night. In the mid pack of the field, Team Holland impressed with a very young team including Dutch talents Mike Dijkgraaf, Tess Verschoor, Max op den Kamp and the more experienced driver Guido van den Heiligenberg. They were surprisingly fast, matching laptimes of most top teams and were competing for a top 5 position in the pro ranking (for teams consisting of 4 or more drivers). At the front of the field we increased our lead with a couple of strong stints, also in less good karts. PPR RT dropped back a little bit because of an incorrect pitstop (resulting in an extra pitstop of 43 seconds!), while the Belgium Traxxis team drove consistent stints and made their way up onto the podium. Traxxis won the team championship during the past Indoor Kart World Championship and now drove with Kenny Verbinnen and Peter Neefs, coached by Ward Maenhout.

In my penultimate stint, the 11th of the race, I set the best lap time on 49.14, which would remain until the end of the race, confirming we were the fastest team today in terms of race pace. Hussarya was however less than 2 laps behind and still going strong, featuring the Skoda rally driver Mikolaj Marczyk as well. Mikolaj competed in several big indoor kart competition before and has always been a strong competitor not to underestimate. In the closing hours of the race many people complained about a headache or being sick of the dirty exhaust gasses inside the building. This made the race physically hard and as Rico still felt relatively fit, we decided to let him drive the final 2 stints. Our advantage over Hussarya increased to almost 2 laps, while Traxxis was holding PPR RT off on 20 seconds for the final spot on the podium. After 8 hours the chequered flag was waved and we could celebrate a very nice win in this great race. We were very happy with our performance and were glad we came again to Poland. After the podium celebrations we quickly passed by the breakfast before heading to our beds again, we needed it after this race by night! We would like to thank Remi Drzazga for the smooth organisation and hope the rumours of a 24 hour race next year will be realised!

Puchar E1 Gokart Poznan

Ruben victorious in first edition Puchar E1 Gokart in Poland
Puchar E1 Gokart Poznan, 14 October 2018

During the 2018 Indoor Kart World Championship I was approached by my karting friend Karol Romanczyk regarding a new indoor kart tournament hosted on the new track of E1 Gokart in Poznan. The format included 4 qualifier rounds, a semi-final and a final for the top 12 drivers in the ranking. 90 kilograms was the minimum weight and there was a great prize pool, so I was looking forward to go. A new track for me, and I arrived there on Saturday 13th of October, the track looked amazing, having a first-floor level and an outside part. The Sodi karts were not very fast, but nice to drive. The weather was perfect this weekend and that allowed us to also drive on the outside part. After a few practice heats I felt comfortable on the track and I really liked the variation between the normal tarmac on the ground floor and the more slippery surface on the first floor. On Saturday evening we went into the beautiful city center of Poznan to relax before race day would start on Sunday.

On Sunday around 30 drivers gathered on the track, maybe slightly less than expected but some strong drivers were present and for a first edition it was a really nice field of drivers. A lot of drivers I didn’t know but it felt like many people were looking at me as being the favorite, I was the only non-Polish driver on the grid today. I was excited to get going and in the first heat I could take the full amount of points after being chased by the young Polish talent Maksymilian Bergiel. In every race we had to make a pitstop which worked via a laser system which detected that you entered the pitlane. In the next rounds I faced a couple of strong opponents, but every time I managed to grab the victory, kart differences didn’t seem to make the difference today, which is always very good. After 4 qualifier rounds I was 3 points ahead of Przemo Niewiadomski, a driver I knew from the Polish Indoor Kart Championship who has driven here before and was very quick. He finished one time second, and like in the qualifying heats, we didn’t meet in the semi-final as the group were based on the points standing. We both won our semi-final, keeping it tight going into the big final.

The number three placed driver was already some 10 points behind, so I knew my focus should be Przemo as he was my only real rival left. All 12 finalists had to do 1 hotlap in the same kart one by one, starting with me. I put in a very good lap, feeling confident this might give me some extra points for the shootout qualification. It was cool to see the 11 other drivers going one by one after me and I had some time to prepare for the final race, for which I didn’t draw the best kart in the pack, but neither did Przemo. Nikodem Wierzbicki qualified in 2nd place after me, which was not bad for me looking at the points. The final comprised 25 laps, approximately 25 minutes, and I was challenged from the beginning by Nikodem. He put me under a lot of pressure, for the first time today I had a real battle on my hands and this was nice to see in the final. We pulled away slowly from Przemo who was around 5th place and when Nikodem made his first of 2 mandatory stops approximately halfway in the race, I decided to stay out. I was risking the first place in the race as Nikodem was a bit faster than me, but for the championship this was safer. When I made my two pitstops, I came out just behind the leader, but I was still close. When a backmarker was in front of us, I could come on his bumper again and I attacked the same lap, taking back the lead successfully. From that moment I defended and I booked my sixth victory of the day, winning the championship with a clean sheet!

It was amazing to win the first edition of this event in style, and a big honour being received in Poznan with a lot of respect and appreciation. During the prize giving ceremony a lot of great prizes were awarded to all top 10 finishers. On the podium I received a nice trophy, a free entry ticket for next year and for another Polish championship. On top of that I got a driving course from a professional racing driver, Mateusz Lisowski, to which I’m really looking forward. I would like to thank the organization including Karol Romanczyk and the crew of E1 Gokart for the invitation and hope to see you again next year during an even bigger second edition of this event.