Ruben Boutens

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

25 hours of Eupen

BlueStar realizes fantastic hattrick in Eupen’s finest
Eupen, 29/30 September 2018

The 25 hours of Eupen, as if 24 hours weren’t enough. Eupen’s most prestigious race was back in the last weekend of September. Together with my fellow BlueStar teammates, Christian Douven, Mathias Grooten, Logan Sougne, Romano Franssen, Yoan Medart and our team captain Gregory Laporte I was entering this race again. A very strong line up of 18 teams with plenty of international flavor prepared for one of toughest races of the season. On Friday evening the briefing and practice took place, a relaxed atmosphere was present and some final preparations by all teams were done. As we won the race in the last 2 years, we were seen as the favorite by many people. However, we were well aware of the competition out there and especially the Belgian/German team of Acquity Racing was on full power and looking for their first victory in this race. On Saturday morning the track was cold as ice, something that would change quickly. I started the 25-lap qualifier and handed over to our top talent Logan Sougne halfway through the session. He managed to grab the 3rd spot on the grid, behind both Acquity teams and before some strong Polish teams.

The race was underway and Logan took second place quickly. Only Marc Schings from Acquity was too quick for us in the beginning of the race, but no stress as we would exchange all 19 karts during the race. This meant we had to do 19 stints of about 1 hour and 20 minutes, including 6 on 95kg instead of 85. Logan did a good stint and I went out on track for the second, immediately on 95kg. Right after me Yoan and Romano did two more stints on 95kg, and we all managed to drive laptimes which were still amongst the fastest in the field. We build up a lead from the second stint onwards and felt confident about our pace so far. The professionalism of the organization was seen in many aspects, interviews broadcasted live with all teams, massage available in the lounge upstairs and the crew very helpful both on and off track. As the evening came closer I did my second stint already, again on 95kg and I was able to match the pace of our main rivals in the previous stint on 85kg. This felt very good and we tried to increase our lead over Acquity Racing.

After an hour of 6 our lead stabilized, Acquity seemed to be our only real rival this weekend, but they certainly didn’t give up yet. When I finished my second stint I was going for some fresh air and a pizza outside the karting track, with 6 drivers you have time to relax and I could prepare already for some more action during the night. Meanwhile Christian and Mathias did their first stints, the first adapting amazingly quick to the circumstances and the latter struggling a bit more on the very grippy and tricky track. Halfway through the race, the direction was changed and the leaders were picked up by a safety kart. We tried to avoid being in the lead, as you always lose time being the first behind the safety kart, and we could play around with our strategy as we had to spend a certain time in the pit. Acquity was also alert and in the end, we were in the lead halfway and hence, lost some time. Our advance was reduced to a virtual 25 seconds and we felt the competition in every stint. Acquity had quite a different strategy as they drove the first half of the race with 3 drivers in one direction, and left the other 3 for the normal race direction.

While some people went to bed for a while, I was ready to step back into the race in the middle of the night. Some crucial hours were awaiting us and I could drive my first stint on 85kg. The grip level was insane and also very narrow. Being off the main grip line with 20 centimeter could mean that you completely lost the kart in under- or oversteer and that made it very, very hard to drive consistent laptimes. Bjorn Aelberts from Acquity was a little slower than me on fastest laptime, but his average was impressive and so he stayed very close. Our advantage was reduced to 20 seconds when I entered the track, but as Cemil Yamizoglu from the Acquity squad had a very bad kart, I could take back a full lap. The stint after, we had this same kart, and I took this kart on me as well, driving a stint of 2 hours and 40 minutes. I could limit the damage in this kart to maximum half a lap, which still gave us a lead of a lap and 10 seconds. My job was done for the moment, I went upstairs to the sleeping room, trying to catch some sleep.

I had full confidence in my teammates, and especially role of Gregory was not to be underestimated, he kept us sharp all race long, being on the side of the track or in the pitlane for the entire weekend, always supporting and motivating us. That was necessary, as Acquity kept pushing as well. When I woke up again, it was exciting to check the score board, and we were luckily still in the lead with an advantage of about a lap. The last couple of hours arrived and Christian, Logan and Yoan once more pulled the trigger. It was great to see them excel in such a big race. Acquity was strong until the end, coming back into the same lap in the last hour of the race and finishing just 40 seconds behind us after 25 hours!! That’s not even one and a half second per hour. But we made it, a fantastic feeling and with great team spirit we secured our third victory in a row at the 25 hours of Eupen! A great round of appreciation we would like to give to the organizers and all participating teams who made this event worth remembering again. Hope to se you all next year!