Ruben Boutens

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

Coppa Campioni 2021

Exciting race weekend in Italy without luck in the final for Ruben
Jesolo, 11-12 September 2021

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The Coppa Campioni (Champion Cup Kart or CCK) was a famous international gokart race in the 70’s and 80’s held at the historic track Pista Azzurra in Jesolo, Italy. In 2021, the Italian brothers Piernatale and Rocco Formini together with the track in Jesolo decided to organise a new edition of the Coppa Campioni attracting some of the best international rental kart drivers. In the weekend of 11 and 12 September the event took place and several days before the weekend, I arrived in Jesolo to combine the championship with a holiday at the beach in Italy. Luckily we were presented with great weather during the entire week which made the stay even better. On Wednesday evening I drove my first session on the track which was completely new to me, together with my friend and BlueStar teammate Eliano de Vos. The karts and the track were great and on Thursday and Friday we drove some additional practice sessions, which was very helpful for me as in the past years I did not race too much on outdoor tracks so I needed the practice to get up to speed.

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The championship started under a fantastic sunrise on Saturday morning, featuring 67 drivers from all over Europe including some familiar faces from the indoor kart scene and some new (Italian) drivers I did not meet before. The atmosphere was great and further boosted by the Italian commentator who was making a great show around the races all weekend long. On Saturday 6 rounds of heat races with three groups of 22/23 drivers were planned, a full program with plenty of exciting races. Every race consisted of a 2-lap qualification session followed by a 14-lap race including one pitstop. It was not only great to drive the 15 horse power 390cc Sodi Karts around the track but also great to watch some of the action from the grandstand or somewhere around the track. Racing on outdoor tracks is quite different compared to indoor races, overtaking is much easier, defending much harder and it typically pays off to work together using slipstreams instead of fighting for track position like we more often used to do on indoor tracks. On Pista Azzurra we experienced that the tyres were easily overheated which created some understeer and sometimes also bumping of the kart, which made some karts challenging to drive.

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My Saturday comprised a lot of different races, including a lead from start to finish but also fighting my way back from the midfield with a less good kart through traffic by first-lap overtakes, smart strategy and defending my position. The kart differences were quite big which in my experience is in almost all outdoor rental karting events I have participated in over the last 15 years. Changing weather conditions and long straights cause differences in karts to be amplified and with a bad kart it is much harder to obtain a strong result which on indoor tracks is sometimes possible. After six races I scored a win and a second place with two very good karts, two sixth positions with an average and a less good kart and a 9th and 11th position with two really bad karts. All in all I ranked 9th of 67 drivers after day one, indicating I was not the only one with mixed results. I however really enjoyed the racing and also noticed that my pure pace substantially improved during the day, much better compared to what it was during the practice days which gave me good hope for the final day of racing.

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On Saturday evening I enjoyed a great dinner with my Belgian and Dutch friends from BlueStar Racing team at one of the many good Italian pizzeria’s in town. On Sunday morning the Coppa Campioni continued with the semi finals, live streamed on Motorsport tv which further raised the excitement amongst drivers and spectators. Every driver drove two semi finals, three groups were formed based on the ranking and grid positions in the first semi final were based on the ranking after the heats (excluding the worst result). In the second semi final, the starting order was based on the result of semi final one with the top 8 starting with a reversed grid. As in the heat races, kart draw was important. To qualify for the final, a top 22 position was sufficient and there was no specific advantage for the higher classified drivers in the final as for the final a new kart draw and qualification is done and the result of the final was also the final classification in the championship. Therefore I didn’t want to take stupid risks as I had quite some margin to make the top 22 after the semi finals. Starting my first semi from 3rd position, I was able to follow the fast guys in front of me being the German Dennis Höller and my Belgian Bluestar teammate Logan Sougne. We could pull away with the three of us quickly and halfway through the race I was able to pass Logan. After the pitstops and working nicely together with Dennis and Logan, I made a decisive overtake on Dennis in the final lap and was able to win the race!

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That meant I had to start the second semi final from eight position. In the first lap, I chose the outside line after the standing start and that paid off as was in sixth quickly after the start. During the race I had good pace with what I think was an average kart and could climb up the ranking, waiting long to make my pitstop. After the pitstop I came out on 4th place and overtook Dennis Höller on the final lap after his pitstop while we crossed the finish line side by side. A great battle with a lot of respect for each other. With my semi final results I made it to the final in 7th position, but as mentioned before, the position did not really matter anymore which was of course a pity for the drivers in the top of the standings like my Dutch BlueStar teammate Christian Douven, the fast Italian youngster Nicolo Soffiati and Dennis Höller.

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After the semi finals there was a great show with old gokarts, amazing to watch and there was a live music performance on stage as well. Everyone was ready for the big finals. All drivers had to chance to drive a final race, as there was also a C final and B final for the people ranking below position 44 and 22 respectively. After watching the drivers presentation and the action in these interesting races, it was time for the big all decisive final of 20 laps. Kart draw was now super important with these 22 top drivers lining up and in the three minute qualification session I quickly found out that I had not been lucky at all. I qualified in 13th position but the difference in speed with the front runners was really big so even before the final started the disappointment was already there as I knew my chances on the podium were gone. Of course I gave everything in the final to make the best out of it. The first lap was quite eventful with many drivers being a bit more aggressive than before, which resulted in many drivers going off the track and I was able to win several positions by avoiding the crashes, but I was also pushed wide and losing some places again.

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In the end I finished the race in 15th place after working together with the fast Belgian driver Gilles Vervisch in a large part of the race. At the front of the field it was Dennis Höller controlling the race from pole position with a very strong pace in line with his whole weekend and he in the end claimed the Coppa Campioni title 2021, a great win and a big title for him, in my opinion very well deserved and great to see how happy he was crossing the line in first. For second place a lot of position changes took place including my BlueStar teammate Vica Schledz, a great young Dutch talent who was battling with my other BlueStar teammates Logan, Christian and Yoan and also the Italian driver Maicol Mattioli and Belgian Benjamin Kaivers. Christian did not have to best kart either and definitely deserved more than the 6th position he ended. It was in the end Mattioli who took 2nd place after a great comeback in the final, just before Logan, Benjamin and Yoan. A great podium finish for my Belgian friend Logan as well, congratulations to him! Despite my disappointing final and the dependency on the karts, I sincerely enjoyed this great outdoor event and was proud to see all six BlueStar drivers being in the final and being part of most of the battles at the front of the field in the entire weekend! Additionally, there was also a great atmosphere the entire weekend, not only with all Dutch drivers but with our foreign competitors and friends as well. With some small changes to the rules I think the championship has the potential to become even more high level, fair and exciting in the next years and I would love to be part of it in the future again. Thanks to the organisation for inviting us to this first renewed edition of the Coppa Campioni.

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Polish Indoor Kart Championship 2021

Ruben storms to third PIKC crown in Poland
Szczecin (Pl), 28-29 August 2021

It was Thursday August 26th, one of the most exciting weekends of the year was waiting ahead of us and together with my friend Rico Haarbosch I jumped into the car early mornings to travel from Holland to Poland for the 2021 Polish Indoor Kart Championship (PIKC), the tenth edition of this iconic indoor karting event. No less then 184 drivers across 3 categories subscribed for this yearly returning event, in line with last year again at the end of the summer. The days before the weekend are always fully booked with practice heats. We arrived halfway during the day on Thursday and had three heats scheduled for Thursday evening in both directions. I used the time in between to finish some work and do some running outdoors, slowly clearing my mind and getting into the vibe for the weekend. Practice went well although we could only drive on the indoor track due to the bad weather conditions. Luckily a day later we were able to do our final four practice sessions on the combined indoor/outdoor track and the feeling was very good, I felt ready to start my 8th PIKC campaign and I was more fit than ever before.

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As a result of the enormous interest in the championship and the large number of participants, the championship got underway on Saturday morning really early shortly after 6AM! After two heats with the juniors I was in the very first heat in the Open category with 108 drivers split into six groups of 18 for each round. I couldn’t wish for a better start as I grabbed pole position and managed to win the first race just ahead of four time champion Sebastian Papke from Germany who chased me hard during the race, with an average kart I only missed out on fastest lap and immediately scored important points. The atmosphere around the track was amazing and the entourage of Silver Hotel & Gokart Centre traditionally very good. Podiums were done directly after each race and the timing schedule was strictly managed, rankings updated fast, some of the reasons why so many people love to race in Szczecin year after year.

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My day continued with a victory in race 2 as well and then it started to rain, hard rain and a lot of rain was forecast for the remainder of the weekend. The outside track was closed and the championship continued indoors, a pity because the outside section, despite being quite short and with limited overtaking opportunities, really adds something nice to the track. After a small delay (which was recovered in the course of the evening) the races continued. In my third race I drew a really bad kart and had to fight to limit damage. I battled my way through the heat with a good 3rd position on the grid but was overtaken by the Polish talent Adam Szydlowski during the mandatory pitstop. I tried to find my way passed him but did not manage to do so in a correct way (after an attempt I received an orange flag) and he then quickly pulled away, I finished the race in 4th which was my drop result. I finished the day on a high as in the evening I scored my 3rd win of the day, leading the championship after day one being tied in points with Adam Szydlowski (also with 3 wins) and followed by my roommate and defending champion Rico, Belgian former champion (2013) Mathias Grooten and Dutchman Eliano de Vos (all with two victories so far).

The fourth round of heats finished late on Saturday evening after which the championship continued with round five on Sunday morning, unfortunately still only on the indoor track. With another victory I was left with only wins after dropping the worst result and confidently approaching the final stages of the tournament. As of the semi finals, battle qualification were applied to make the championship as fair as possible, battling with your opponent in the same karts to see who is fastest and has the kart pick for the next round to determine the kart allocation for the race. Additionally, important points could be collected in these battles. In my semi final I won three battles in a row before losing from the Polish home driver Maksymilian Bergiel. A small surprise for me but also with the less good kart I was still focused on winning the race. In the first part of the race I could follow Maksymilian closely however overtaking was difficult as I missed some top speed at the end of the straight. I probably waited a bit too long to go for an attack as Bergiel started to accelerate towards the end of the race and I lost the connection. A second place was the result, definitely no disaster but surely a small disappointment. Third place finish was for the strong Polish driver Wojciech Grzyb. The other three semi finals were won by Rico Haarbosch, Adam Szydlowski and Eliano de Vos respectively. Rico, Adam, Eliano and myself were now all within two points of each other going into the big final, an absolute thriller was waiting!

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In the mini final, it was the Polish talent Przemek Kulis who managed to bring home the title. An incredible driver who participated in all three categories this weekend, driving an insane amount of 18 races this weekend! Second and third place went to the other Polish talents Karol Niemczyk and Aleks Demkiv. In the junior category it was Maksymilian Bergiel winning the title in front of Adam Szydlowski and Jakub Piechulski, all finishing within 3 points of each other after an eventful final won by Jakub and which was very painful for Adam who was in top spot to win the championship before the final. Then the super important battle qualification for the best 16 drivers took place for the Open Category. I was first up against Belgian Thomas Haglestein who drove a very strong championship, but I was able to defeat him. In the second round I beat one of the Polish favourites Michal Grzyb, before facing Maksymilian Bergiel again. This time I comfortably beat Maksymilian and was now up against Rico, who beat Romano in his third round. Two super important and potentially decisive laps and in contrast to last year, I could not beat Rico by a small margin and take pole position and the three extra points for pole position! Tied with Rico I started the final!

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I knew I had a decent kart but Rico is always dangerous especially in the first laps, so I was 100% focused on the start which went well. I could open a tiny gap after a couple of laps and then the race was red flagged due to a broken kart of Mateusz Bartsch. A strange situation because in my opinion there was no reason to stop the race, but my gap over Rico was gone again. After a lengthy discussion about the drivers who already stopped in the first laps, it was decided that the full race was restarted. In the restart I had a good first lap and could directly pull away a bit. I felt that I had the title in my hands and extended my lead lap by lap, tenth by tenth. Various other drivers including Mathias Grooten, Wojciech Grzyb and Michal Grzyb were driving equal or even faster laptimes but the gap was made in the first laps already and I controlled the race. Rico was chased by the Grzyb brother but hung on to second place. A super result for me, winning the final and claiming my third PIKC crown after earlier titles back in 2015 and 2019!!! What a super finish to my weekend and great to have Rico with my on the podium on second place once more. For the 15th time in a large individual rental championship (including KWC, BNC, PIKC, IEKC etc.) Rico and I shared the podium of which 10 times we were one and two, very special to compete with him as always and a big congratulations to Rico as well. Third place was for Eliano de Vos, who drove an exceptional consistent weekend with all first or second place up to and including the semi final, a sixth place in the final was enough for him to secure his first large international podium in the Open category, congratulations to Eliano. Amongst all the other top drivers in the final, Michal and Wojciech Grzyb managed to end the championship of a very strong 4th and 5th position. In the newly introduced team championship, Rico and myself teamed up with German Sebastian Papke and despite Sebastian missing the final, we were able to win this team championship, a very nice cherry on the cake! Thanks a lot to the organisation, drivers and other people involved for making this another amazing weekend at Silver Hotel & Gokart Centre during the 10th edition of the PIKC.

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Belgian National Kart Championship 2021

Ruben very strong in BNC but misses out on podium
Kortrijk (Be), 3-4 July 2021

In the strange year 2021 which was still heavily impacted by the Covid-19 situation around the world, the first large international rental kart championship was planned for the first weekend of July, after being postponed twice, the Covid-19 situation now allowed for a large international championship on the Belgian track of Kortrijk, the Belgian National Championship (BNC). The track of Kortrijk is always a special one to me as I drove my first Indoor Kart World Championship there back in 2008 and it was the first time the BNC visited this track after being held in Dolhain in the past four years. On Friday before the race and Saturday morning, there was the opportunity to practice on the track and on Saturday afternoon the championship got underway with the first heat races.

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On Saturday the first three heat races for all drivers were raced and every heat consisted of a single lap qualification and a sprint race including one longcut which was a strategical element you could use. My championship could not have started better with three victories on day one, having drawn some average karts and a very good one, allowing me to lead the championship after day one. My fellow countrymen Rico Haarbosch and Vica Scheldz followed closely with two victories and a podium each. On Sunday morning the last two heat races were driven to determine which 45 drivers would make it into the semi finals after dropping half of their worst points score. My qualifications were very good all weekend and that allowed met to start from pole position in race 4 and 5 again which is always crucial in these short sprint races on indoor tracks as it gives a huge advantage in track position despite the various possibilities to overtake on the track of Kortrijk. I managed to score two more victories and therefore qualified for the first semi final as the points leader again.

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The championship continued with three semi finals of 15 drivers with another hotlap qualification. I qualified just outside the top three this time but as the differences were small, nothing was lost yet. I fought my way up to the top three during the race, both by overtakes on the track and by waiting long to use my longcut. By doing the longcut you basically cut the first corner and therefor you won some seconds in track position but as you missed the crossing of the start/finish line, you missed one lap and had to be careful not to end up with blue flags. When waiting long to make the longcut, you had to take into account traffic from back markers. With very consistent laptimes and a late longcut I was able to jump all my competitors and continue my winning streak with a 6th consecutive victory! I was however not the leader in the championship as Rico just overtook me by scoring three more points for the qualification in the semi final. Rico won the second semi final and the third one was won by the strong Belgian competitor Mats de Jong who won the championship back in 2017.

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After Rico and myself, it were Christian Douven (NL), Bram Gelten (NL), Vica, Thomas Haglestein (BE), Mats, Michael Schöttler (DE), Jarno Hermans (NL), Nicolas Leroy (BE), Fabian Siegmann (DE) and Yoan Medart (BE) to qualify for the grand final featuring the best 12 drivers of the weekend. The qualification for the final consisted of three hotlaps in three different karts for each of the 12 drivers which went out on tracks in four groups of three. I chose to drive in the second group which was with hindsight probably not the best choice as in the last groups when the tyres were warmed up most, the three fastest qualification times were driven. I qualified in fourth position which meant there was still nothing lost. The final was all decisive for the championship and the points leader had the first kart pick, I chose my kart second. The kart differences were however so small that it was almost impossible to pick a kart, which is off course a big compliment to the organisation and not seen very often. In the final 2 longcuts had to be made. Christian qualified in pole position ahead of Vica, Rico and myself. In the second corner of the race, Rico immediately attacked Vica with a late but good move and together they went wide. I could undercut the two exiting the corner but the next corner was a long left hander and I was just not far enough ahead to cut to the inside line and Rico could come back next to me. As a result, I got tangled up on the outside of turn 3 and lost several places and crucial time.

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I started my recovery giving everything I had an waiting long with longcuts while most of my rivals took them in the beginning of the race. It was a very close battle on laptimes and Vica and me were winning back time on Christian and Rico. Rico however closed the gap to Christian as well and overtook him for the virtual lead in the race. Towards the end of the race I started gaining more time and came back into fourth position. Vica overtook Christian with the longcut and started to chase Rico, going bumper to bumper into the last lap. I was chasing Christian and managed to get on his bumper on the last corner, crossing the finish line side by side just a second behind Rico and Vica, but it was just not enough. Rico won hist first BNC title ahead of Vica and Christian, a thrilling final as a crown on a great championship. For me it was however a big disappointment, being dominant in the championship with 6 out of 6 wins up to the final, but still missing out on the podium, that hurts! Congratulations to the podium finishers, all three drove a super weekend and therefore a well deserved podium! Next to the individual championship there was also a team ranking where I managed to take the victory together with Yoan Medart and Eliano de Vos! Big thanks to Mathias Grooten and Gregory Laporte and the track of Flanders Indoor Karting Kortrijk for the amazing championship.

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Polish Indoor Kart Championship 2020

Ruben to sixth PIKC podium after crazy week
Szczecin (Pl), 29/30 August 2020

The 2020 kart season is one to remember, not because of the many races, but more because of loads of races being postponed or cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Polish Indoor Kart Championship was originally planned to be organised in April but was postponed twice and ultimately scheduled for the last weekend of August. I was looking forward to the PIKC 2020 a lot, like many other drivers. With some necessary precautions, including wearing of face masks and no crowd at the balcony or around the podium, the organisation was able to still organise a large international rental kart event. After driving a lot of miles in the weeks before, I decided to head to Szczecin already after the TKC race the weekend before in Grimma. I spent some nice time with friends in Poland before starting practice on Wednesday, unfortunately only on the indoor track as a result of the rain. I felt very comfortable on the track and did my last practice sessions already on Thursday early in the morning, and not without a reason!

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While most drivers arrived, I headed back to the Netherlands for a very special day, on Friday my sister was going to marry with Joris and that was a day I obviously couldn’t miss. After a fantastic day I stepped back in the car late in the evening on Friday together with my dad. We drove back overnight and I arrived in the morning well on time for my first of three races on Saturday. Not a very usual preparation and I knew it would be a challenging day without sleep. In my first race we had to qualify in one lap in the normal direction. The outside track was now open and I didn’t drive on it this week yet. Despite that, I qualified in 5th and was motivated to make the best out of the race. With some good overtakes and even a battle for the lead in the last lap of the race, I managed to finish the race in second place just behind my Dutch friend Romano Franssen and before the fast Hungarian driver Andras Gaal. A good start of the championship!

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From that moment, my day only became better. In the second race of the day I picked a very nice kart which helped me a lot in securing my first win of the championship over my BlueStar teammate Logan Sougne and Dutch friend Guillermo van Pamelen. In my third race of the day I had a pretty tough group, including former three times winner here in Poland, German Sebastian Papke. I was sharp in my qualification which was spot on and took the win in the race from there with Sebastian coming home in second. A great first day for me and I was happy I didn’t have a fourth race today as I was looking forward to my bed a lot. Luckily we were able to book a room last minute in Silver Hotel, a great facility and after a visit to the pool and sauna and a good dinner in the restaurant, my bed called me early today!

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On Sunday morning I was waking up full of motivation to make the best out of day two, the day that really counts! In my fourth race I had a difficult group and a not so good kart. I was pushing hard to follow the top three guys having qualified outside the top three, and with a do or die move in the last corner I tried to steal the third place from Adam Szydlowski, betting on this race to being my drop result anyway. The move was too late and I was put back to fourth place, while Polish Michal Grzyb, the man who earlier this year dethroned me in the BRKC after 6 years, took the win over Sebastian Papke. In race five I also didn’t had the best kart draw, however my group was not the strongest of the weekend and I managed to score a good second place behind Belgian Yoan Medart and before Vica Schledz from Holland, one of the rising stars of Dutch indoor karting at the moment. From now on, kart draw was not really a big thing anymore, as the four semi-finals included a battle qualification where the winner of each battle could choose his or her kart to proceed. I felt very strong and beat all my rivals in the battles, taking some important points and the pole position.

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In the race I noticed quickly that I took the wrong decision in my last kart pick, as Yoan was able to follow me easily. With a smart undercut he jumped me in the race and the only thing I could do from that moment was follow as Yoan covered the inside well when he needed to. In his slipstream I could take an extra point for fastest lap, however second place did feel as a disappointing result in this race. The second place made me drop in the ranking to the fifth spot, as former world champion Rico Haarbosch was leading the pack a couple of points clear from three top drivers being Michal Grzyb, reigning world champion Michael Schöttler from Germany and Yoan Medart. I was shortly behind in 5th and everything was still open for the final podium. In the other categories the titles were taken by Mellanie Motz (best women) and Vica Schledz (best junior) from the Netherlands, and in the mini category it was Dawid Wisniewski from Poland who took home the biggest trophy, congratulations to all of you!!

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Then the big final, the all deciding race. In the battles I won my first two matches by some margin, including my direct rival for the podium, Yoan Medart who was strong again all weekend. Michael Schöttler and Michal Grzyb were out in the second round so that made me level them in points already. After having just won his first battle over Dutchman Christian Douven, Rico won his second battle comfortably and I was now facing him in round 3. I came just a little bit short to beat Rico like two years ago in the KWC final, but he moved on and took pole position before Sebastian Papke. I started the race in 3rd place and was chased from the start by Romano Franssen. An exciting race where Rico slowly pulled away from Sebastian and I just couldn’t follow Sebastian. Romano was on my bumper and behind him Michal Grzyb was charging hard. When Romano pitted he could close the gap to me. Meanwhile Schöttler and Medart both pitted already and were losing time. Outside it started to rain a little bit, further increasing the tension. It was between Michal and me for place 2 and 3, and the pitstop was decisive. Michal tried an undercut two laps before the finish, but in the lap after I came in and just made it in front of him again. A tight finish but I ended the race in third spot which gave me enough points to finish the championship on a very satisfying second place!

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Rico was the well-deserved, and first time, champion, big congratulations for a very strong weekend from him. For me climbing from 5th to 2nd in the final felt like a small victory, after such a crazy preparation, the second place meant a lot to me. After two championships and three third places in the past 6 years, I made it now to the podium for a 6th time, incredible. When I saw the other drivers on and next to the podium in the top 5, being Michal Grzyb in third, Sebastian Papke in 4th and Michael Schöttler in 5th, I realised how high the level of this championship is, year after year! It was a very special week with a very nice result. After one more night of sleep we drove back home on Monday. I would like to say thank you ever so much to the great PIKC organisation, even in Corona times they made it happen to organise a great event. Hope to see you all next year!

Photos: Photo Edith

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Indoor European Kart Challenge 2020

Ruben makes it onto the podium after tough draw
Middelburg, 22/23 February 2020

The fourth edition of the Indoor European Kart Challenge brought another incredible line up of drivers to Middelburg, Zeeland in the Netherlands. The track was changed again in the week before the championship and a lot of people were positive about the new lay-out. The weekend was very full with a maximum of ten races per driver and on Saturday morning we kicked off with the first of 7 preliminary rounds. I had a difficult draw on race one, with a lot of strong groups and some bad karts, but I was ready to fight for every position. In race one I finished second behind my BlueStar teammate Romano Franssen and before the strong Dutch local Marcel Kouijzer. In race 2, 3 and 4 I had very strong qualification laps which helped me winning all three of them, even while in race 3 and 4 I didn't have the best karts of the frontrunners. In my fifth race I had kart 13 which was one of the worst this weekend, but luckily my group was not super heavy and I managed to turn around a fifth starting position into a fourth finish place. So far this counted as my drop result, however in race 6 on Sunday morning I had kart 8 for the second time, which was also one of the worst karts.

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After day one I was very positive about my chances as I was leading the championship, just before some other super drivers like former world champion Rico Haarbosch from Holland and reigning world champion Michael Schöttler from Germany. Race 6 was very difficult, I drove the entire race in the midpack and despite driving faster laptimes than all other people in this kart, I couldn't finish higher than position 8 and that hurt a lot in the championship where I fell back to place 4. In race 7 I drew one of the best karts, in which I drove the fastest laptime of the weekend with 39.7, a difference of 0.8 seconds between this and the previous kart, which is huge. I was back on place 3 but like anyone else I needed a bit of luck in the draw for the quarter final and semi final where we just had to pick a ball from the bag. In line with earlier this weekend, I wasn't too lucky with a very difficult kart for the quarter final. In the race I tried a different tactic as before, waiting to go through the shortcut, which gave you an advantage of some one and a half second. But I got stuck in traffic pretty fast as some slower drivers already took the shortcut and I was forced to take the shortcut after a lap or 6 to not lose more time on the top 5 drivers. In the end of the race I could close the gap to German Thomas Schaller was who driving in fifth, but I was not abel to pass him anymore. Rico drove a very strong quarter final in his group, he won the race after overtaking poleman Joris Sturm, and set himself on pole position for the title.

Michael Schöttler was very unlucky as the qualification of his quarter final had to be done twice (like many times before this weekend), which cost him four places on the grid, while Rico benefitted in the same situation by jumping from 4 to 2. Guillermo van Pamelen is one of the young local drivers who is improving year by year and as he won his quarter final, he came into second place in the ranking, a big surprise for many drivers. In the semi final I faced Rico for the second time this weekend, but again it never became a real race between us as he drew the best kart in the pack while I had an average one. My qualification was super and I could start from place 2, but after the first corner I knew that this was also the best possible finish position as long as Rico wouldn't make any mistakes. Marcel Kouijzer fought for place three behind me with amongst others Mike Bartelen, that gave me some space and I could secure the second place, moving up in the ranking again to place three as Michael finished in the middle of the other semi final. Patrick Bakker, the 2018 champion dominantly won the second semi final and moved up to place 4 in the ranking, only one point behind me and one point in front of Michael on place 5.

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For the final the karts were picked in the order of the ranking, so I had the third pick and knew I had a good kart. The starting order was determined by setting a single lap in the same kart in reversed order of the standings. When it was my turn it was Michael who put down the fastest time just before Dutch Danny van Domburgh. I didn't do a very good lap as I made a mistake in turn 3, but I took the provisional pole with 0.008. After me it was Guillermo with a very strong performance, beating my time by a tenth he proved to be a well deserved man in the top three, he looked very confident. Rico was the only one who could beat him, with a small margin, but he took control of the final, having the best kart and starting from pole. Given the difference of 9 points between Rico and me and 4.5 points between Guillermo and me, I knew it would not be easy to still climb, while I had Patrick and Michael close behind me in the ranking. Therefore I decided to go with Guillermo and not attack him to build up a gap to Michael. This worked out well, and the pace of Guillermo and me was very similar, while Rico was just a tad faster and secured his third IEKC title in the front of the field, a super strong performance from him. In the final an incredible field was driving including European top drivers like Christian Douven, Opnithi Puyato, Matts Breckpott, Romano Franssen and Eliano de Vos. In the final ten laps of the 35-lap final I came closer to Guillermo and was on his bumper in the last lap, but Guillermo covered the inside well and secured a vice-championship, a super strong weekend for him and well deserved second place. For me a third IEKC podium in four years, not a bad result given the line up of over 100 drivers, and given my kart draw I was satisfied with the final result. All in all an exciting weekend, but to be honest, the kart differences were very big and a lot of karts broke down, I'm curious to see what will happen in the future with this big international championship.

200223 eikc podium

Swedish Rental Kart Championship 2020

Ruben beats everyone but ends up second
Kungalv (Se), 2 February 2020

In the first weekend of February 2020 it was time for the Swedish Rental Kart Championship, organised at the track of Gokartcentralen in Kungalv for the second year in a row, a track with electric karts close to the large city of Gothenburg. Last year I first participated in the championship and I really enjoyed it despite just not winning the title, so I decided to come back in 2020 to have another go. On Saturday 1 February the track was open for practice heats, which were necessary as the electric karts demand a slightly different driving technique and I always have to adapt to that. I felt confident after some heats and looked forward to race day on Sunday.

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The championship had a nice format, including 5 qualifying heats which were divided in 3 time trials of 9 laps where only the best laptime counted, and afterwards 2 12-lap races with a hotlap qualification and 2 longcuts. In my first heat I had some strong names like Nikolaj Marsengo who finished 3rd here last year as well as Arnaud Teuwen who recently won the Racehall of Champions in Arhus. The kart differences were quite small, however I had one of the slowest ones and had to push to set a good laptime. I ended up third, which was not a good start for me, but luckily this weekend included one drop result. In the second and third heat I faced some strong names as well, including the champion of last year Erkin Bour, a very strong Swedish home driver. In these two heats I could put down the fastest laptime and score important points.

After a small lunchbreak the races started, starting from standing position with the lights. The track changed completely compared to last year, which was very nice. Overtaking however was still very difficult, so the qualification was key today. The strategic element with the longcut resulted in a laptime which was like one second slower, so also with the longcut there was not much to play around with. In my fourth heat I could take pole position by good margin and win the race without problems finishing in front of the fast Belgian driver Mathieu Detry. In my last heat I have to say that I was very unlucky. One of the karts broke down before the start of the qualification, and the kart was changed. As the replacement kart was cold, I could understand that the kart should be warmed up, but unfortunately it was the driver himself (instead of someone from the track) that was allowed to go on track of 4 or 5 laps. Now he had a huge advantage and this cost me pole position by half a tenth. As it was a very good kart as well, I could not attack him anymore in the race and finished 2nd which cost me 2 very important points.

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For the semi-finals the top 24 drivers were divided in three groups of 8 and the highest ranked driver was able to choose the kart first, while not being able to pick a kart you have driven before. This was an interesting rule which I didn’t see before, and it helped me a lot today as the five best karts were all still available for me. I was in 6th place after the heats which meant I was in the same group with the championship leader which was Dylan de Wolf from Belgium after winning all his five heats. In the qualification I took pole position by a small margin, and during the 16-lap race I could consolidate the lead and only had to defend after I made my two longcuts when Dylan still had to go through the longcut. A good victory which moved me up into fourth position behind Arnaud, Erkin and Dylan, tied in points with Erkin and Dylan and only 2 behind Arnaud. It was then time for the junior final which was a close battle between a number of talented drivers, resulting in a renewal of his championship for Danish Nikolaj Marsengo. Victor Sparholt, also from Denmark, and the Belgian Rayhan Mouoya ended up in second and third place.

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Before the final race of 20 laps a knock-out qualification was planned between the best eight drivers. I first had to battle against number five from Sweden, Kim Kettunen. I won the battle and advanced to round two against the highest ranked, Arnaud. I drove two decent laps and also won my second battle, while Dylan beat Erkin. In the final matchrace I won by more than 2 tenths margin and I picked the same kart I had in the semifinal. I was super happy with my qualification laps and ready for an exciting final. The first longcut of the top 4 drivers happened relatively quickly during the race, but didn’t change anything in positions. Erkin and Dylan then went for their second longcut and Arnaud was chasing me, but we drove similar laptimes. It was exciting because all four drivers could still win the championship, but I had the control over the lead in the race. After my second longcut I came out ahead of Dylan and was on the bumper of Arnaud. He then made his last longcut and was then fighting side by side with Erkin for third place. This gave myself and Dylan a gap of a couple of seconds. It seemed to be a battle for the championship between Dylan and me now with a couple of laps to go.

Then things turned differently as Dylan decided not to go for his own title chances but sacrificed his own position and slowed down a few seconds to let Arnaud by in the final lap of the race. Now Arnaud would be tied in points with me and win the title as this time the final was not decisive but the number of wins and so on. A very disappointing move as we race an individual championship which was now massively influenced by team tactics. I know unfortunately this kind of games happen more often and I am the first to admit that in 2013 in Denmark I also tried to help my former teammate Corne by defending on a driver who made the mistake to do an early pitstop. At that time, I immediately received a black flag as it was not allowed, and it created so much badwill from spectators that since that race I never sacrificed my own position in a race to help other drivers, let’s say everyone makes mistakes.

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All in all the championship ended on a low, not only for me becoming runner up (as the 3rd place in heat 1 lost it two the 2nd place of Arnaud in heat 2, with the other 6 results being equal) after winning the battles and the final, but also for the people involved as the shine of the title was completely gone. I still want to congratulate Arnaud and Dylan on their podium, they made the level of the championship increase this year and despite the final they both drove a strong championship. Looking back at my own championship I’m still very much satisfied with my performance, both in pure speed, qualification and race force I showed to be on top of my game and there was nothing more I could do. Hopefully next year things will enroll more fair play, I hope to be back again as I have to complement organiser Glenn Gyllin and the kart track for a great event.

200202 srkc resultaat

British Rental Kart Championship 2020

Magic winning streak comes to an end
Milton Keynes (GB), 18&19 January 2020

2020, start of a new decade and for the first race of the year I travelled to Great Britain again. Since 2013 I have been competing in Britain's premier rental kart competition and from 2014 onwards the one-weekend championship was organised at Formula Fast Karting in Milton Keynes, which was also the scene for this year's anniversary edition. The 10th edition of BRKC started with the official practice day on Friday 17 January, although many drivers already visited the track in the weeks before. Looking at the list of participations this year, the level increased again compared to previous years and I knew it would not be straightforward to go for another extension of my title streak, which I brought to six last year. It was great to be back at Formula Fast, greeting many familiar faces and getting ready for my first competition of the year. Similar to all previous years, I drove two practice heats on Friday which felt good. A few more practice heats would definitely help me, however combining all my kart weekends with work does not always allow me to arrive very early.

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On Saturday I was scheduled for only two heat races, of which my first one was a tough group immediately. In the one lap qualification my pace was not right there, I was probably a bit too careful and missed pole position by a tenth lining up in fourth behind Mats de Jong (pole) and Selina Balneger (second), two new drivers in BRKC but well known opponents in various races and championships over the past years. In front of me was Mateusz Bartsch, who attacked Selina in the first lap of the 20-minute race, but came on the outside of the corner and I could immediately overtake him. Selina then overtook Mats a few laps later, Mats appeared to be in a medium kart and that made his qualifying lap even better. I could also overtake Mats at the end of the straight and then set my target on Selina. I could close in and make a good move at the end of the straight, but I came from far away and just could not make it stick. From that moment Selina started defending and I knew I was in a difficult situation with Mats chasing us. So I decided to go for a relatively early pitstop, but Selina countered my undercut and stayed out in front. As she defended quite hard, Mats was virtually closing in on the lead rapidly and I decided to back off to try and go for second place. However Mats made his pitstop and just landed in the middle of us, and defended well until the end. Not an ideal start with a third place, but still a long weekend ahead of me.

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In race 2 I had my only group which was slightly more easy, and we drove it on the alternative lay-out which was prepared in the break after the first ten races. This race went smoothly, taking pole position with half a second and winning the race with a lead of almost 20 seconds! I enjoyed the remainder of the day watching plenty of other nice races, catching up with some other competitors and relaxing in the hotel while watching the live stream, BRKC still is the most professional championship in rental karting and a pleasure to follow via the live coverage.

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On Sunday I started with a very difficult group including some title contenders like Yoan Medart and Mathias Grooten who challenged me in different BRKC finals over the past 6 years. I now had a perfect qualification, giving me pole position with a 4-tenth gap to Mathias and Yoan. In the race I could quickly run away and then consolidate my lead as on race pace the top three was quite close. One more heat race to go and I was back in the top of the standings where I wanted to be. In my fourth group I didn't have the kart to challenge for the win, as some of my rivals including Wojciech Grzyb and Regis Gosselin had decent karts. I qualified in fourth again behind Remigiusz Drzazga and he covered the inside lines well when I was close behind him. I tried to overtake him with a pitstop later in the race, but came out behind him again. In his outlap however I managed to overtake him by undercutting him at the exit of one of the corners, giving me another third place in the end.

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Before the semi-finals, I was tied in sixth place in the ranking and only a few points behind leader Selina who was the only one to win all four race so far. I knew I was still fully in the race for another title, however I did need a good semi final as it was very close in points between all 30 semi-finalists. I was scheduled for the second semi-final, which was according to most people the strongest of the three, including reigning world champion Michael Schottler, Mathias Grooten, Mats de Jong, Matuesz Bartsch, Cedric Wauters, Ramon Pineiro and the Dutch youngsters Eliano de Vos and Guillermo van Pamelen who were both very strong this weekend. I drew kart 12, the kart Ed White had in the first semi. That was painful, Ed dropped back all the way to eight place and was one of the slowest in terms of lap times, while arguably one of the best drivers in that heat. I had to make a very difficult decision, keeping the kart and knowing in this group it would be very difficult to score a top 5 finish which I thought I would need for making the final, or changing for a cold one and being too slow in the beginning of the race. I opted for the latter given that there were 2 very good karts in the pit, but I drew number 15, I was not sure about the current performance of this kart.

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In the qualification I was last by a mile, which I already took into account when going for the switch and I was ready to fight in the race. In the beginning a lot of battles took place but I couldn't really capitalise with my cold kart, and when the race progressed I improved my laptimes considerably within 2 tenths of the leaders, but I stayed one of the slowest on the track. I knew I made a wrong decision to change, I could only overtake Cedric and my championship was over. After six years the title was going to a new driver and it was a pitty that I couldn't defend it in the final. A strange feeling to watch the final from the side of the track, but still I enjoyed it. The final was very exciting to watch with 10 top drivers in it, fighting for every position. It was Michal Grzyb who took pole position and never faced any of his opponents again in the final, a dominant performance from him and a well deserved title for Michael after his third-place finish of last year. Michael Schottler had to start from fifth place, and before he passed Mathias, Regis and Mats, he was too far behind Michael to still attack him, although he was the fastest driver in the final. The fight for third place was very close, although Mathias was on the bumper on Mats and Mats being hampered by a backmarker, Mats still managed to hold on to third place and could be very satisfied with this result. Another great edition of BRKC came to an end, not as successful as in previous years for me, not making the final of a kart championship for the first time in many years, but still I very much enjoyed the whole weekend and look forward to come back next year to go for my seventh title. I would like to congratulate the winners and thank the organisation for a great championship.

Photos courtesy of: Autographic Photography by Lee Marshall

200119 brkc 2020 podium

Spanish KWC Qualifier

Ruben wins first Spanish title in Madrid
Rivas-Vaciamadrid (Sp), 22 December 2019

On the 21st of December 2019 I travelled to Spain together with my mom and dad for my third participation in the Clasificatorias KWC Espana, the Spanish championship which gives access to the Kart World Championship 2020 in Portugal for the top 4 finishers. On Saturday I drove several practice sessions in tricky, wet conditions. For Sunday, dry weather was forecast and therefore I came back in the evening to drive some sessions on a dry track as well. This felt very good and I felt ready for the day of competition. Despite extremely windy conditions, I got a warm welcome back to Spain from other participations who received me once more with a lot of respect and admiration. Since I first came here in 2017 for the Indoor Kart World Championship, I love to drive here and it is always a big pleasure to return. No less than 20 groups of 4 drivers started on Sunday for the group stage of the tournament, where each group drove heats in 4 different karts. The best two drivers per group advanced to the next round.

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I was scheduled in one of the last groups and could therefore catch some sleep before heading to the track on Sunday morning. I was in the same group as Victor Plaza, who was the number 3 of last year, so that was immediately a good test. The heats went well, and apart from a small penalty in the first heat, I was very satisfied with the results. I touched the barriers in the first heat which apparently moved a bit, therefore my best 3 times in that heat were deleted. Despite this penalty I was the fastest in all 4 karts by some margin, therefore I knew that I would face a runner-up from one of the other groups in the next round. This appeared to be Busian Fontan, the number 4 driver from last year, so another strong opponent. We know had to drive the reverse direction and in the first lap, Busian unfortunately hit one of the large tractor tires and therefore automatically lost the match. We still drove the second lap to keep the momentum and it felt good again.

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In the second round the draw didn’t turn out to be very lucky for me and Fernando Lara, as we faced each other already in this round. As number one (Fernando) and two (me) from last year, we already knew that one of us would not be on the podium this year. I was very much focused to prevent losing again, and my laps were pretty decent. With a margin of 0.8 second I won the match and advanced to the 3rd round. I now raced Christian Bartolome and won my duel with a 1.4 second margin, I made it to the final with the last 5 drivers. In this final were Jorge Suarez, always a strong rival who was very fast on the Indoor Kart World Championship in 2016 and 2017, Javi Rodriguez, Gerard Soto and Jose Maria Servian. During the laps you could not see any laptimes so it was hard to know how you were doing. It felt good though and on the way back to the cafeteria some people already congratulated me. When looking back at the lap times it turned out that I won the championship, an amazing feeling to be back on the top step of the podium here. Javi became 2nd with a 1.5 second deficit and Jorge finished in third. Gerard was the fourth driver who claimed a KWC ticket. A super result for me at the end of 2019 and after a 3rd and a 2nd place in the two previous editions, I was super happy to win the championship now. I would like to thank the organisers Jose Burillo and Ana Pozuelo once more, as well as the host track owner Miguel. I hope to see you all at the world championship in 2020.

191222 clasificatorias kwc podium

Belgian National Championship 2019

Ruben’s comeback brings him to fifth in the final
Dolhain (Be), 16/17 November 2019

The fourth edition of the Belgian National Championship was organised in the weekend of 16 and 17 November at the track of Hurricane Dolhain Karting in the East of Belgium. This championship serves as one of the qualifier events for the 2020 Kart World Championship in Portugal and the organisation attracted 60 drivers from all over Europe including a very strong pack of contenders who could potentially make it to the final. On Friday and Saturday morning there was an opportunity to practice, and I arrived on Saturday in very cold conditions. The track was recently changed and was tight, which meant overtaking was not easy and qualification would be crucial. The races were preceded by a one lap qualification and one shortcut was required in every race. As the shortcut gave you an advantage of only a few seconds, the risk of running into back markers was very high when you would not take it in the first possible lap, therefore in almost every race the top drivers took the shortcut immediately, limiting strategic opportunities.

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In my first race I was initially lined up in 11th after qualification, which was surprising as my lap felt decent and I had some overspeed compared to the drivers around me in the first laps of the race. When the race was stopped by a red flag it became clear that my transponder was changed with someone else, and that I should have started from position 3, that was relief! The race was completely restarted and I finished the race also in third place, as Jimmy Gaspard and Opnithi Puyato were too fast in front of me. In race 2 I qualified 2nd behind Selina Balneger who defended well during the race. Yoan Medart was attacking me from behind and found his way past me in the closing stages of the race, I finished again in 3rd and was not happy with this result as I gave the position away to Yoan to easily. In race 3 I didn’t draw a good kart either, and the group was incredibly strong. I qualified only in 8th place and could pass two drivers during the race to finish eventually in 6th position, not a good result and as a result, I ended day one as number 16 in the standings.

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On day 2 I had to make up points as only the top 12 would make it to the final, so I needed a couple of good results to climb. With temperatures below zero I took pole position in the first race on Sunday morning. Finally an extra point (which could be scored with both pole position and fastest racelap) which were so important given the small differences in points between the drivers in the ranking system. In the race I could secure the victory over my countryman Guillermo van Pamelen and Belgian Tristan Foldesi. In race 5 I had a decent kart, and only Stefan Verhofste was faster than me in the number one kart which proved to be the best kart of the pack in all qualifier races. With these results I jumped to place 7 and I went into the first semifinal. I drew an average kart and qualified in fifth place this time. The race was a bit longer than the previous races and after some nice fights with the German drivers Thomas Schaller and Marcel Schlenker I finished on position 4. Not a great result, I remained number 7 in the ranking which meant I had the 7th kart pick for the final which was decisive for the final result.

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The 12 finalist, excluding some very big names like vice world champion Dennis Holler who didn’t make the final, were divided in four groups for a qualification of one lap in three different karts. My first and last lap were very strong, however with a less good second lap I had to start the 40-lap final from 7th place. The race pace of all finalists was extremely close and therefore it was not easy to make up time. This time the shortcut could actually be used at later stages of the race without risking to run into slower drivers early, and therefore I waited as overtaking on track was very hard. My pace was good and helped me pass both Florian Bredohl and Bastien Cabrera via my strategy. Opnithi started in the back of the field and was fast, after my second of two shortcuts I came side by side with him. When he noticed me being on his inside, he tried to cover the inside for the next corner, which made me hit the tire walls and an iron pin inside the tires. I came off the ground for a second and lost a lot of speed, but the race direction decided to swap our positions based on this move. This gave me 5th place in the end, not the great result from last year, but given the level of competition this weekend also not a bad result.

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The four drivers in front of me were all super strong during the weekend, on fourth place Christian Douven, a few seconds behind German drivers Michael Schottler in second and Marc Schings in third. But the BNC title 2019 was for Belgian home driver Yoan Medart, a very strong competitor for years who now added this big title to his resume, well deserved. The top 3 in the race finished like they started and the whole field of 12 drivers passed the checkered flag within 11 seconds of the leader, incredible and underlining the high level of drivers and kart equality in the final. The fights for the junior championship was decided in the last laps of the race, with Rico Haarbosch making a move on Bastien for 7th place in the race, which allowed Eliano de Vos to pass by Bastien as well and securing the BNC 2019 junior title, a very good result for him as well. All in all it was a very nice edition of the BNC to be part of, where qualification (and to a smaller extend kart draws) were decisive, in both aspects I just came short to compete for the title this year, but I’m looking forward to the next one. I would like to thank the kart track, Gregory Laporte and Mathias Grooten for the organisation during this weekend!

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Polish Indoor Kart Championship 2019

Ruben in fine style to another big title at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center
Szczecin (Pl), 27-28 April 2019

The 8th edition of the Polish Indoor Kart Championship (PIKC) was seen by many as one of the largest and most prestigious indoor kart championships of 2019, with 120 drivers in the open category the event was completely sold out and with the addition of the British commentator James Auld (well-know from BRKC), PIKC 2019 was a better event than ever before. Already on Wednesday the first people arrived for practice heats which continued until the late Friday night. Last year was the first time in my 5 previous appearances that I did not make it to the podium and I was determined to do better this year. Therefore, I arrived earlier than last year and did already one practice heat on Thursday, followed by some more heats on Friday. I felt strong on out on the track straight away and couldn’t wait to start racing.

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On Saturday morning the championship started with the first of 5 qualifier rounds in the normal direction. I had a tough heat to start with the top 3 from the past Indoor Kart World Championship which was driven at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center as well, Polish Jakub Klek (2nd), Dutch Rico Haarbosch (3rd), but also Opnithi Puyato. In the morning it was raining and the outdoor part stayed open, which made the qualification lap tricky. I made some small mistakes and had to start from P4. In the race I could win just one position by overtaking Polish Dawid Chart halfway through the race. I was faster than the leaders (Klek and Puyato) but had not enough time to close the gap in the 15 laps, Haarbosch finished behind me in 4th. In my second race my group was slightly more easy and I qualified in 2nd behind German Carsten Waibel. During the race in reversed direction I could follow him closely and overtake him on track. My young countryman Eliano de Vos finished in 3rd. Eliano is one of the Dutch talented youngsters, and eventually won the Junior Championship during the PIKC this weekend, beating Dawid Zagol from Poland and David Papp from Hungary.

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I had to wait 6 hours but never a dull moment with amazing racing which were completed during the first day of PIKC 2019, a pleasure to watch from the side of the track. In race 3 I had a very difficult group again, but taking pole position made my life easier this time. I could slowly pull away from one of the top contenders from Poland, Michal Grzyb, the number 5 from the past world championship and runner-up in the British Championship earlier this year. Rico was in this group as well and could overtake Michal later in the race, I didn’t have to take risks during my pitstop and took the maximum points score with the fastest lap as well. During the last race of the evening around 10 o’clock I was out on track for the fourth time today and I increased my number of victories to 3 today, a great result in another strong group, with Lars-Ole Jens from Germany chasing me and finishing 2nd before Mellanie Motz, the Dutch woman who was crowned undisputed women’s champion this weekend!

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On Sunday morning the remaining heats of round 4 were raced before I was scheduled for my 5th race. With my current results I could race this one without pressure, I decided to go full attack for my 4th win as my back-up with the drop result was a decent 3rd place. I could take pole position once more and with a relatively easy win and fastest lap I scored 87 out of 88 points in the preliminary rounds, an amazing result which gave me a 6 point advantage over Filipe Vieira from Portugal who was second in the ranking before a handful of other top drivers still going for the title, including 4-time and reigning PIKC champion Sebastian Papke from Germany, Grzyb, Romano Franssen (NL), Jens, Christophe Verhoeven (BE) and Klek, Dennis Holler (DE) and Puyato. In the battle qualification for the first semi-final I could first beat Matys (PL) and De Wolf (BE) before facing Rico. We were very close, but I was beaten by 0.03 and was left with a slightly less good kart. Starting in 3rd behind Rico and Lars-Ole Jens I still had a good chance for a nice result and with the three of us we were clear of the rest of the pack quickly. With an early pitstop Jens tried to make a tactical move, however I was able to close the gap on Rico, drive the fastest racelap and overtake Lars-Ole with the pitstop. Rico covered me well 2 laps later and I finished in 2nd, a good result which guaranteed me the lead in the championship going into the final. The other semis were won by Romano Franssen and Filipe Vieira, both very strong in the battles and race.

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For the first battle in the final I was facing Sebastian Papke immediately, he made a faulty pitstop in the semi-final and just made it to the final as 16th and last driver. I was hoping not to be kicked out directly, but beat Papke and moved on to round 2. There was Rico again, this time I felt confident to beat him after a very good first lap, but a few minor mistakes on the second lap screwed my chances up as I lost by 0.02 seconds, a big disappointment which made my life much harder for the final. I was happy to see that Rico won the final battle from Grzyb, which was now my biggest rival, while Vieira starting behind me in 6th was another dangerous opponent. In the first laps I could overtake Opnithi with a late move which costs me a warning. Behind me were Filipe and Christian Douven (NL) and I could slowly pull away from them. It was a two-man battle for the lead of in the race, which was won by Grzyb who made an early pitstop and executed a successful undercut to win the final. I was behind Franssen in 4th place and knew I had to finish 5th to be equal in points with Michal, 4th would give me a 1-point advantage. I covered Christian who came close to me in the final laps of the race, with the pitstop I kept my position and the title was in the pocket. An amazing title to win, my second PIKC crown and this one felt even better than 4 years ago as I did it this time 100% on own strength instead of some accidents by others. The weekend felt like the world championship from last year continued and I’m grateful to have my name once more on the wall of fame in Silver Hotel & Gokart Center. Michal Grzyb and Filipe Vieira finished the championship in a well-deserved 2nd and 3rd place! I would like to finish my reporting saying thanks to the organization which was outstanding once more, a great championship, I’m looking forward to the 2020 edition already!

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Indoor European Kart Challenge

Ruben drives back to second with great comeback
Middelburg, 23/24 February 2019

The third edition of the Indoor European Kart Challenge took place in the weekend of 23 and 24 February 2019 at Indoor Karting Middelburg. The championship is known by its incredible high level of drivers and amazing prize pool. From Wednesday to Friday practice sessions took place on the renewed track and I drove most of my heats after work on Friday. I felt ready but kart differences were quite big during practice, which increased the importance of the group and especially the kart draw. My first race on Saturday morning was by far my worst of the weekend. I was driving on place 2 in an average kart when I made a move for the lead in the race. I passed my countryman Kouijzer but slipped away in the next corner which allowed him to overtake me again and I got stuck in the tires when trying to keep up with him on the outside of the corner. I threw away a victory and after contact with some other drivers on the track I fell back to 9th place. Luckily we had a drop result which kept me alive in the championship. The rest of the day I was quite unlucky with my kart draw, and a 4th and two second places was the best I could do, resulting in a 12th place after day 1.

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This year, the final was all decisive in the championship and the standings after the semi-finals would determine the order in which we had to choose our karts, so extremely important. In the 5th and last qualification race on Sunday morning I drew another bad kart, while still having the chance to at least draw 8 good karts. I fought for every position and finished in third place, which made me climb still one place in the rankings. The semi-finals count for double points and I couldn’t afford any bad result, otherwise I could easily miss out on the final. Luckily I had an average kart this time, and I qualified in second position again behind Marcel Kouijzer. In the race we were bumper to bumper in the first half, before his kart slowed down a few times out of nothing. The numbers 3 and 4 in the race came back quickly and I decided to pit. Marcel stayed out and that allowed me to make the difference on track and jump him after his pitstop. I had to fend off Ricardo Vlieger behind me, but I made it to the finish line first. This victory came on a very good moment for me, due to mixed results of other high ranked drivers I jumped to third place in the ranking only behind Haarbosch and Puyato, two guys who were in the front of the ranking from race one and like during the KWC in 2018, very strong all weekend.

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Before the final, the final for the team race took place, a new concept in IEKC introduced this weekend. Ten teams qualified on Saturday evening for the big final of 2 hours and together with Rico Haarbosch and Lorenzo Stolk we tried to put The Dutch Value on top again like in the qualification race. We had to make 2 driver/kart changes and these were not the best for us. We had to deal with difficult karts and were never really in the race for first place from the start. Auto Sturm (consisting of Sturm, Sturm and Bakker) won the race, before another Dutch team, Klaver 4, featuring Verbaarschot, Bartelen and Van Domburgh. After I overtook the number 3 team in the last stint, we finished on the last podium spot.

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Then the big individual final, all 15 drivers had to drive a single lap in one kart one by one, Mats de Jong from Belgium put down a very strong laptime as second driver to go out (41.48). The next 10 drivers all were slower ranging from 41.9 to 41.5 and then it was my turn. I drove a good lap and improved the best time to 41.43, with just Opnithi and Rico left. Opnithi drove the slowest time with 41.9 while Rico did a great job, beating everyone else with a 41.33, amazing lap! In the race Rico and I quickly pulled away from the rest of the field, including De Jong, Grzyb (Pl) and Leloux on the spots behind us. I could stay close to Rico for like three laps, but then he increased the pace and with his first kart pick, it was not possible for me to keep up with him. Opnithi drove a very strong race, staying out very long and coming back to 5th place (still worth 600 euro) in the final standing, just before German Michael Schöttler who is always strong in Middelburg. Mats had the 1 before last kart pick and did everything he could, finshing in 9th position and still taking 200 euro back to Belgium. For third place it was very exciting as a battle between Matts Breckpot and Tim Leloux resulted in a third place for the young Dutchman Leloux, taking home a 1000 euro cash prize. During my race I didn’t take any risk from half way onwards, performing a safe pitstop and finishing the race and championship in second position. This was certainly the best result possible this weekend and thus I was satisfied with my best performance so far during the IEKC, which brought me a nice 1500 euro as well. Rico was the well-deserved winner of the 2000 euro cash prize, a very strong weekend from his side and his second IEKC title. I’m looking forward already to come back stronger next year.

Photos: Photoedith.nl en Mad Brothers’ Racing

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Swedish Rental Kart Championship

Ruben with electric karts in Sweden for the first time
Küngälv (Se), 27 January 2019

After having raced in the Belgian (1st), Spanish (2nd) and British (1st last week) national championships in the past months, I travelled to Gothenburg for another KWC qualifier event. I was planning on visiting Sweden already for a couple of years, but flights are typically expensive and this time I finally made it to Sweden for the first time in my life. I arrived at the brand-new track of Gokartcentralen in Küngälv, just 20 minutes North of Gothenburg, where a fleet of electric karts was waiting for us. I drove 3 practice heats on Saturday evening and I had to adapt to the karts as the acceleration and driving style was different compared to normal karts. The championship was organized by Glenn Gyllin who participated in several world championships himself in previous years. Some 60 drivers were presented, most of them coming from either Sweden or Denmark and a lot of strong names amongst them. The format was a special one with first 4 heats including 2 time trials and 2 races with a 2-lap qualification and 2 mandatory longcuts. The worst result was dropped before the top 24 drivers qualified for the semi-final.

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I started my day with 2 victories in the heats while facing amongst others one of the top Swedish drivers of last year’s KWC, Erik Berggren. I could try some more different lines and seat positions, it was strange to not hear any engine sound when accelerating from the pitlane, but I have to say I was positively surprised by the small kart differences and driving of these karts. In my first race I could take pole position and do one of my longcuts while staying in the lead, when the race was stopped because of a kart breakdown. After some discussion it was decided not to restart the race and I won also my 3rd heat. In race 4 I had a difficult kart and I finished in 3rd place behind Danish Nikolaj Marsengo and Carsten Sparholt. I qualified for the semis in 3rd place, tied in points with the top 3, consisting of local star Erkin Bour, Nikolaj Marsengo and Ian Andersen. In the semis we could pick our karts in the order of the ranking, so I had the second kart pick after Ian. The race went really well, after I took pole position I could drive away slowly from the rest of the field and take my longcuts without losing the lead in the race.

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For the final 8 drivers were left and the classic and fair knock-out qualification system was applied to determine the kart allocation and starting order. I managed to win my first duals from Alex Engblom and Nikolaj Marsengo before facing Erkin Bour in the last battle. I noticed that our times were very close all day and ultimately, we were split by 0.01 of a second after 2 laps of the both of us, Erkin won the battle and had the first kart pick. The track was not easy to overtake so I knew I had a difficult race on my hands. In the first few laps a small incident where I was pushed wide cost me a couple of seconds. I tried to bridge the gap and came very close again to Erkin, but just as I was almost on his bumper, he found an extra gear and drove away from me again with small margins. I tried to force something with a double longcut, but I couldn’t reach his bumper again, so I had to settle for second place in the race, which also meant a second place in the championship. Erkin was the deserved winner and took home the 3000 SEK prize money and free KWC entry ticket. I was a bit disappointed just after the race, but happy to be on the podium again in another international race. The third place and junior title was for Nikolaj Marsengo, a great talent! Carsten Sparholt won the masters category and therefor also received a free entry to the 2019 Indoor Kart World Championship in the USA. All in all, it was a great experience and I hope to be back next year!

British Rental Kart Championship 2019

Ruben battles his way to incredible sixth British title
Milton Keynes (Gb), 19-20 January 2019


The British Rental Kart Championship (BRKC) is arguably the most professional indoor kart championship in the world. In no other championship the level of live coverage and entertainment is so good as it is Milton Keynes in the first month of the year during the BRKC at Formula Fast Karting. Additionally, the kart equality and the set-up of the event makes sure it is also one of the fairest championships. No surprise the championship was sold out in a couple of hours, attracting top drivers from all over the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Weeks before the championship actually starts, the enthusiasm rises as group draws are done, predictions are made, practice heats performed and the prefaces are written. Friday 18th of January 2019 all competitors meet at the track for their last chance to drive around the circuit before the money is on the line. 100 drivers, 90kg minimum weight, 40 heats, 30 semi-finalists, 10 drivers per race, 10 finalists, 2 commentators, 2 different lay-outs, 1 pitstop per heat and 1 hotlap qualification before every race. These were the numbers that we knew before the races got underway on Saturday morning, everyone was excited to find out how the 100 places in the final ranking would be filled in.


No matter if you are watching a BRKC race from the cafeteria inside the karting, from your phone at the beach in Australia, from the couch warm at home or in the cold at the side of the track, it is always a great pleasure to watch. No matter if you are watching the heat of death or a race with 10 drivers you have never heard of before, the legendary BRKC commentator James Auld makes sure you are always at the tip of your chair enjoying the race, as he and co-commentator Spanners Ready provide every race from detailed and passionate commentary and post-race interviews. Half of the drivers was scheduled for 3 races on day 1 whereas the other half would drive their last 2 heat races on Sunday. Happy faces and disappointed faces, celebration of good results and incorrect pitstops, bas pass flags and fantastic overtakes, pitstop strategy and defensive driving, the heats on Saturday had everything to offer you could wish. About my own heats, of which I had 3 on Saturday, I couldn’t complain at all. Only in my last race I didn’t start from pole position as Spanish Ramon Pineiro put in a fantastic qualifying lap, but in the end of the day I was able to win all my 3 races, topping the ranking after day one. I was happy given some of my UK rivals that I faced already, including Ed White, Sean Brierley, Lee Hackett, Dan Healey and Bradley Philpot.


Sunday was the big day, in fact, today the all decisive final was due at the end of the day’s program. But to come there, a first cut of 70 drivers had to be survived to enter the semi-finals. As the difference between place 20 and 40 was so small, clearly some drivers took additional risks to get themselves over the line in their final heat race. After the final heat was finished Sunday afternoon, it was double BRKC champion (2012 & 2013) Lee Hackett who was in the lead with 39 points. I was tied in points with Lee after having had a very difficult 4th heat with some close-fought battles where I ultimately came home in second place behind the fast BRKC debutant Brandon Williams who outqualified me and defended his position well during the race. A few top drivers including Jonny Elliott and Matt Bartsch even didn’t make the semi’s, showing what kind of level we had on our hands this weekend. The semi-finals are always very exciting, even the drivers who are in the top of the ranking are not guaranteed of a place in the final as points are ever so close. Three groups, all 20-minute race preceded by a hotlap qualification. It was my BlueStar teammate Logan Sougne from Belgium who managed to win the first semi-final, while there was some English drama with Sean Brierley (who was very fast all weekend) spoiling his potential semi-final win and place in the final by making an error in the pitlane and Lee Hackett having an unlucky kart-draw and finishing in 7th position.


In the second semi-final it was my other BlueStar teammate Yoan Medart who climbed up to second place in the ranking by winning the race in fine style, underlining his candidacy for another BRKC podium position after having finished 3rd in the last year’s final. I was able to score a 2nd place with a difficult kart after a nice battle with Polish young talents Nowicki and Matys, which was good enough to secure the first place in the ranking. The third semi-final was probably the hardest one with Michal and Wojtek Grzyb from Poland (both frontrunners at the past world championship indoor) and English hopes Ed White and local driver Lewis Manley. It was Ed White who drove a very strong race to the victory which secured his place in the final. While Lewis Manley just made the final with a 6th place finish, it was Wojtek Grzyb who fell down from 4th to outside the top 10. Apart from Logan, Lee, Yoan, myself, Ed and Lewis, the other finalist were British Brandon Williams and Dean Hale, Polish Michal Grzyb and his talented countryman Patryk Nieroda. Dutch youngster Guillermo van Pamelen just missed out on the final after a great weekend and ended up in 12th place. One by one we had to drive our qualification lap in the number 11 kart to determine the starting order of the 30-minute final. The tension was very high, laptimes so close, the track more slippery than you would like. I had the first kart pick, a big advantage but with the kart parity being so good the start position was more crucial to fight for the title. My lap was good, but apparently not good enough for pole position, I qualified in third behind Michal Grzyb and Lee Hackett, and only just before Patryk Nieroda. The top 4 was split by only 0.02 of a second, insane!


The final was underway and two outsiders from the back pitted early, Yoan Medart and Ed White both didn’t qualify in the top 5 but they were certainly not to be underestimated. Lee covered the inside of most corners in the beginning of the race, not much looking behind and following Michal. When Michal pulled away slightly and Ed started to increase his pace at the back of the field, I knew I had to make a move. At the end of the straight, going into the hairpin, I found the right moment to overtake Lee and get into second position. Michal was just a second away and I could close the gap in a couple of laps. He was smart and defended his position at the end of the straight, giving me no possibility to overtake at that point again. I backed off a bit to speed up the pace as the defensive lines cost too much time looking at our advantage to Ed, which was just about 22 seconds at that moment, knowing that we still had to make 2 pitstops of about 10-11 seconds. Halfway through the race I was on Michal’s bumper again as Ed still closed in slowly. If I couldn’t overtake him on the track, my strategy was an undercut with a double pitstop, but if that would give me first place was far from sure. I went for an attack in the final corner of the track where I managed to get past Michal, it was for sure a risky move as a bad pass would probably give Ed the virtual lead in the race. Luckily it worked out perfectly for me although Ed was now only 21.6 seconds away. I know had to make the most out of my kart which was a good one for sure and could get some purple times (fastest racelap) on the scoreboard.


I felt that the control of the race came back in my hands, and I waited until the last 5 minutes to perform my pitstops, to build up a slightly bigger gap, so I didn’t have to take any big risks in the pit. I exited the pit only a second before Ed, the crowd was on their feet and the atmosphere amazing. Both Ed and I went into the 31.5 laptimes which were the fastest times of the entire weekend! When I saw the chequered flag I felt fabulous, winning for the 6th year in a row is another dream come through, it is almost incredible for myself as well to win the biggest trophy and the ₤1000 cash prize. I knew at the beginning of the weekend I had a chance again to go for another title, but with so many big names on the grid I never take something for granted, everyone starts from zero and every single mistake can cost you a place in the final. Given the amazing live-coverage on Youtube a lot of people followed the race via internet, which makes performing well at this event even much more special. Ed White and Michal Grzyb finished in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, while Lee Hackett and Lewis Manley fought their way into the top 5 as well. Together with Logan and Yoan I secured the team championship, for which we all three received a fantastic trophy of glass. Once more I would like to thank the English people, commentators, organiser Bradley Philpot, track staff and camera crew for their warm welcome and the great weekend. I can imagine many people would love to see a different winner sometime, but it means a lot to me to win this title again! Hope to see you all in again in 2020 at a new edition of the British Rental Kart Championship!

Thanks to Mad Brothers Racing Team; Bradley Philpot and Lee Marshall for the Pictures !

Spanish National KWC Qualifier

Ruben improves one place finishing 2nd in the Spanish NQS
Madrid (Sp), 23 December 2018

Less than a week after I returned from Dubai, another great karting trip was around the corner. Together with my dad I travelled to Spain to participate in a new edition of the Spanish National Qualifier Series for the Kart World Championship. In March of 2018 the previous edition was held in which I managed to finish 3rd behind Rico Haarbosch and Jon del Valle. This time tickets for the 2019 world championship in the USA were on the line. On Saturday morning the 22nd of December I arrived in Madrid and it was cold in Madrid as well, unlike what we were used in previous visits to the capital of Spain. In the afternoon I had 4 practice sessions, 2 in both directions and the layout was changed compared to last time. It was not easy to be quick straight away, in my last heats I noticed that I was slightly slower than the quickest drivers on the track, including Jon del Valle who was very fast. After a good dinner we went to bed early to be ready for the raceday on Sunday.


Traditionally, the Spanish championship is not about races but about time trails, stopping the clock as fast as possible after one lap. A fair system although the tension of overtakes, strategy and defending is absent. We started with 13 groups of 4 drivers who all drove 4 heats while rotating 4 different karts. In the morning the start was delayed because of rainy conditions which made the first level of the track very slippery and according to the organisation too dangerous to drive. We therefor only used the lower level of the track. On a drying track I was able to clock the fastest time in my group in all 4 sessions, qualifying for the final knock-out round. We had some time to go for lunch and to visit the hotel for a hot shower, before returning to the track. There was a draw to determine the schedule for the 32 drivers left, including the best 2 of each group and the 6 fastest numbers 3. Winners of a group couldn’t face a winner of another group in the first round, however the system allowed for facing all drivers in the second round. Potentially, the 4 best drivers could be in the same quarter and in that case, only one of them could reach the podium, as losing a round implied you were knocked-out of the tournament. A fair system to determine the winner but not always for the number 2 and 3.


We now raced again on the full track and in reversed direction. In the first round I raced Valentin Aparicio, which I knew really well from previous events. I could win from him with quite a big margin and went to the second round against Christian Bartolome. Another good driver but again I could proceed to the next round. Now I knew I had to be on my best, as I faced Jon del Valle. My laps were good and luckily, I beat him in both karts, a bummer for Jon as he might well have been amongst the 3 fastest drivers, but he was out. In the semi-final I had to race against Busian Fontan Alcalde who finished 5th in the previous edition. In one kart it was pretty close, but in the other kart I won by 0.8 second and hence I qualified for the final round. This was against Fernando Lara who beat Jorge Suarez, Cristian Perez and Victor Plaza already. I beat him during the KWC in 2017 and in the previous edition where he finished right behind me in 4th, but I certainly knew he was dangerous. In the first lap I was slightly quicker, but in the second one Fernando beat me fair and square, he was about 3 tenths quicker on the 1 minute and 6 seconds track and as I made no big mistakes in my final lap, he was the deserved winner of the day, well done!


I was of course disappointed not to take the win as I felt very strong during the whole day, but I knew 2nd place is a good result and as only non-Spanish driver today, I was happy to be on the podium again and secure another KWC entry ticket (my 3rd now). Victor Plaza ended up in a nice 3rd spot, also congratulations to him. I would like to thank the organizers Jose Burillo and Ana Pozuelo and the track of Karting Rivas for hosting this great event. I hope to come back next year to take the win and would like to thank all Spanish people for the warm welcome (despite cold weather :P). On Monday we visited the city of Madrid before we headed back home during Christmas on Tuesday.

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!

Polish Indoor Kart Championship

Ruben too late on fire to compete for title
Szczecin, 28/29 April 2018

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On the 26th of April I went to Poland again for my 5th participation in the Polish Indoor Kart Championship at Silver Hotel & Gokart Center in Szczecin. Always one of my favourite events, and this year extra special because of the new karts, the new track (including outdoor part) and the fact that this track will host this year’s Kart World Championship in July. On Friday I had my regular training sessions but I noticed many of my main rivals were already driving the day before (while I was at work :P) and I felt that after my 2 heats of practice in each direction, my speed was OK but I was not yet 100% comfortable with the karts and the track. On Saturday morning the first races kicked of in 8 groups of 20 people, totalling 160 participants in this 7th edition of the PIKC, an incredible field of drivers and a really high level. My first race went exactly as I hoped, I drew a decent kart and could do a safe qualification lap without making any mistakes resulting in pole position. During the race I could drive away from German Lars Ole Jens and Dutchman Romano Franssen, giving me some space when I made my pitstop. The new systems works very well as you no longer have to push any button, but the time is recorded via the transponder. I won the race including an extra point for fastest race lap.

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The weather was very good and during the day the outside and track temperature were rising. This gave a lot of difficulties while driving, as there was a lot of grip, making karts to start jumping easily. Besides that, tires were overheated quickly which caused the karts to go sliding on very annoying parts in the corners. I had to adjust my driving style a lot which gave me some problems in race 2 and 3 of day 1. In the second race I had a very tough group and with a somewhat less good kart I only managed to finished in 5th position after a difficult race. In race 3 I was in 5th place again when I drove the fastest lap of the race in the later stages of the race after changes my way driving. Now I knew for sure I was not fast enough today as finishing in 5th with fastest racelap is never a good result. I moved up to 4th because of a penalty of one of the drivers in front of me, leaving me in 11th place after day 1. I was already quite a lot of points behind championship leader and Belgian BlueStar teammate Yoan Medart.

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On day 2 I felt much more confident and had a better feeling with the karts. In race 4 I was facing two-time world champion Mathias Grooten for the second time and I qualified behind him in 2nd position, quite far off the pole position time. My race pace was however back where it should be, I could follow Mathias all race long and pulled off the fastest racelap as well. This time I was pretty happy with my second place and I moved back into the top 10 before going into the semi-final. I was in the first group and had to race against championship leader Yoan Medart. The qualification was now the KWC knock-out battle system which allowed you to pick your kart when winning a battle. I won my first three rounds, including the battle against top German driver Dennis Höller. In the final I was driving against Yoan and he out qualified me and had the first kart pick. I had a nice kart as well and could give him a so-called run for his money. I was close to Yoan for the entire race but had little chance to overtake him as he was covering the inside when needed and had some better top speed on the straights. For the 4th time in 5 races I took the fastest race lap and again I could be happy with my result.

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During the other 3 semi-finals I enjoyed a dive in the swimming pool of Silver and focused on my last race of the weekend. I was realistically too far away to go for the podium, but 5th place was for sure still possible. The qualification for the final was again a knock-out 1 versus 1 battle qualification. I won my first battle against Belgian Deloitte colleague Peter Neefs and then raced Mathias. I lost this battle unfortunately and had to start the race in 7th position. Sebastian Papke didn’t look as dominant during the weekend as in the previous years and he was very luck in the semi-final when he lost the battle to Giovanni Baccellieri but incidentally got the super kart. But now he showed great speed by winning the battle from first Mathias and then Yoan in the final. It was between Yoan and Sebastian for the title and what a race it was. Sebastian drove away slowly and took the fastest lap a number of times, which would be enough for him to claim the title. But Yoan was still in second place and a number of guys including 2016 world champion Rico Haarbosch were very close to the fastest lap time. I was battling with fellow countryman Romano for 6th position in the race and the championship, we had some nice overtakes and in the end Romano won it because he had a better pitstop. Michael Grzyb was very strong again in the final and overtook Mathias with his pitstop, he was the first Polish driver in the past years to realty fight with the top drivers for the podium positions, hats off!

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The final reached its climax in the final lap when Rico exited the pits and came side by side with Yoan on the outside of the first corner. It was on the limit and the race direction decided to wave an orange flag for Rico during this last lap, while Michael also slipped past Yoan in that some move. Rico didn’t slow down again and finished the race in second position, but he was put back to 4th (behind Yoan) after the race. Emotions all over the place and big disappointment especially for Yoan who seemed to be the strongest driver all weekend but lost his title in the final to Sebastian Papke. He was crowned PIKC champion for the 4th time in 5 years, an amazing achievement and if he will enter the KWC later this year, he will be one of the favourites for sure. Mathias claimed the 3rd position on the podium, which was his 2nd PIKC podium after his win in 2013. Fourth and fifth position were for Rico and Michael. The ladies category champion was Mellanie Motz from the Netherlands, while Thom van Dijk and Wouter Poleij won the junior and mini championships. Wouter was impressive as he qualified for the semi-final at the age of 12, a crazy performance in this pack of drivers!!! For me ‘only’ a 7th position which is the first time here I didn’t make it to the podium, but I was very happy with my performance on the second day. I would like to thank the entire organisation of the PIKC and I look very much forward to the KWC, if I can improve my qualifications a bit, I will be ready to defend my world title!

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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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British Rental Kart Championship 2018

Ruben makes it an incredible five in a row in the UK
Milton Keynes (GB), 19-21 January

It is early January, the start of another year in my karting career and BRKC approaching means the start of a fantastic pipeline of KWC National qualifiers series. The number of Facebook notifications is increasing day by day as the BRKC Facebook group is coming back to life, it is on fire actually. And whether this fire is used to prepare pizzas or to heat up the ever so cold area of Milton Keynes, I don’t really mind, I just cannot wait to step into the car again to go. BRKC is most likely my favorite KWC qualifier series, and not only because the track suits my driving style so much or because I won it already 4 times. It is a combination of many more things. When I arrive at Formula Fast it feels a little bit like coming home, Lewis Manley immediately tells me my exact heat times and which rivals I will face during the weekend. He tells me he can’t wait to race me on Sunday afternoon in heat round 4, and so do I look forward to this. Lewis is just one of many excellent competitors who feature in BRKC, before racing him I will face plenty of other strong drivers. So let’s first focus on some two practice heats. It is always a bit exciting to go out after a year again, I hope I will still be able to do the same as the years before. But when I see Ollie Demetrios Fox and Phil Stanley sitting down behind their desk or on the main marshall post on the track, I calm down. I know with these kind of guys, the organization, the kart reliability and the kart parity is in very good hands. And it is not only because of them, many members of the track staff are familiar faces who know what to do and are part of the extending success of the BRKC at Formula Fast.

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I come back from my first training session, ended up second. I knew my pace was good, but 2nd place means I drop a bit in the Formula Fast club ranking, I don’t like this. I saw the names of Dalton and Dylan Norris topping the ranking, the guys who supported me during last year’s event and were present again during the weekend, probably my rivals here in a few years time. I go back upstairs and Lewis reminds me of my winning streak of 13 races lasting for almost 3 years now, this guy knows everything. But hey, this winning streak is not only credits to me, only when karts are very equal you have the chance to win time after time again, in fact it is just an honorary mentioning of Formula Fast’s kart parity, which is incredible. Back to why I like the BRKC so much in comparison with other championships. The way BRKC is presented to the karting community and outside world is from a different level. Bradley Philpot makes sure the website is better than many professional web designers could produce, the commentating of James Auld which comes live and together with the broadcasting of Darren S Cook’s team in the living rooms of so many people all over Europe during the weekend, it makes BRKC just a bit more special than other championships. In my opinion this is the best advertisement the indoor or rental kart sport could get, much more professional you can’t make it and this is definitely a game changer. When people see me and many other drivers race during BRKC via the live-stream, with interviews by the newest addition to BRKC, Richard Spanners Ready, right after the race, people start looking to indoor karting with more respect than ever before. BRKC is pure entertainment and that’s where sport is all about.

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I’m enjoying breakfast inside the inspiring stadium of the Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday morning, ready to head to Formula Fast for my first 2 heats today. When I arrive at the track I see a lot of familiar faces again. A handful of people come to me and say something like: “Hey Ruben, ready to come and pick up number 5 this weekend?” Some of them (not only drivers) really mean it, they think it really is that easy for me to win year after year again. I know some of them try to make me more nervous, they know very well how hard it is and might try to put the pressure on me. But I nicely reply all with something like: “I hope so but let’s see what will happen because the competition is very strong again this year!” I know the pressure is on me, especially after my world title in indoor karting of last summer, but what can I change about it. Nevertheless I am nervous for my first race of the day, but at the same time, I’m ready for it. My qualification is good, I take pole position but only just ahead of the entire top 6 which is within a tenth and a half! In the race I can pull away and win my 14th race in a row here. Later on during the day I face serious competition of both Dan Healey and Sean Brierley who are chasing me hard on the alternate layout, but I conclude my day with 2 wins and can enjoy the other action with a satisfied feeling.

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My highlight of the day however comes from my sister, being out of karting for more than 9 months because of a persisting neck injury. I sport already together with Annelien since a very young age, whether it is in judo or in karting, going without here does feel a bit odd. On Friday I already knew she was still very fast, proving me right in her first race of the day by finishing in a very strong second position behind one of the title contenders Matt Bartsch. I cheer harder for her than for myself, always share part of my prize money with her and although I know her injury is not yet gone, I really did me good to see her being one of the frontrunners again. Talking about Matt Bartsch, on Sunday morning he ended my winning streak by beating me in heat 3. As I said to Richard Spanners Ready in the post-race interview, I prefer to end my streak now than in the final. I had to move on and knew I still had a good position, only Jonny Elliott and Sam Spinnael made it 3 wins out of 3. Heat 4 was probably my coolest one, having to start with a cold kart which is always a serious disadvantages in the qualification and the early stages of the race. I was lucky to grab 3rd position on the grid with the smallest of margins (0.001) over 4th place. This was crucial however, as Lewis Manley sprinted away from pole position and I first had to overcome Jacob Lewis. When I did so, my hunt for Lewis started, inch by inch I got closer and when the tires got up to temperature, I got him into sight again. For the first time this weekend I had to take risks during my pitstop, knowing that Lewis pitted just a few laps before me when I had almost closed the gap. This was to my advantage, as I now had the opportunity to jump him via the inside line coming out of the pits, and so it happened. My girlfriend Edyta finished in a very strong 5th place this same race! I was very happy with this important win, and also winning my semi-final made me climb back to the number one spot before going into the final again.

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I had my list of karts prepared, I was happy I just needed the top one on this list, but given the kart parity, it was not even easy to choose which was the best kart. I decided to go for number 13, the kart I drove in the first race of the weekend and was fast in all semi-finals. I was focused on my hotlap qualification, everyone knew it was going to be close again, but somehow this time I had my nerves under control. This didn’t save me from making a small error going into the main hairpin, missing the apex by a bit, the rest of my lap was pretty good. I made it to second place, just 0.005 apart from my BlueStar teammate, one of the top rookies in this tournament, Yoan Medart was amazing all weekend and as I knew he had the third kart pick, I knew I had a serious race on my hands. In the first few laps Yoan blocked nicely and I was starting to be worried, some guys behind us made their first pitstop and then you know you have to be very alert. Especially Ed White and Thom van Dijk were lapping incredibly fast laptimes which made me realize I had to make a move soon. For the 4th time in 5 years I could grab the lead going into the hairpin at the end of the straight, overtaking Yoan and trying to set the pace. But Yoan kept with me, while Thom was putting down the same laptimes as well. My fellow countryman Thom is one of the upcoming Dutch talents and like last year, very strong at Formula Fast again. All I could do was trying to lower my laptimes, stay consistent and don’t make any mistakes. After like 15 minutes a small gap to Yoan was initiated and I knew I now had to focus on my pitstops and on Thom. A quick calculation within my kart told me I had an advantage of around 23 seconds to Thom, implying 2 pitstops which didn’t have to be on the ultimate limit. However Yoan stopped before me and after his 2 pitstops he fell back well after Thom, my heartbeat went up.

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Fulfilling my pitstops was a big relief, I saw 4 green lights and came out of the pitstop with a one-and-a-half second gap to Thom with only a handful of laps to go. I knew by then, my 5th title was up for grab and this was a very special feeling. Winning never gets boring, but winning BRKC is always a very big honor. I’m super grateful for the respect I received again during the weekend and of course also after the finish of the final race. I honestly feel like I’m just one of the 100 competitors every year again, but at the same time, I’m very proud of my 5th consecutive championship here as well, the trophy will certainly get a prominent place at home. I’m having a final chat with James Auld and Lewis Manley, my hair smells to champagne quite badly and the journey back is waiting for us. 2018 has started fantastic again for me, I look over my shoulder to give the track probably my last look of this year, grab the trophy and move on in the direction of Holland. I hope to see all racers again during one of the other KWC (qualifier) events this year, and if not, see you hopefully next year at Formula Fast.

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Dutch Open Kartchallenge

Ruben after 3 titles beaten for the first time in DOK
Roosendaal, June 3rd & 4th 2017

In the first weekend of June 2017 the 4th edition of the Dutch Open Kart Challenge took place on a brand-new circuit at Kart Centre Roosendaal. With more than 100 participants divided in several different categories a great weekend was waiting for us. Besides the main senior category with 60 drivers there were many other interesting battles to watch, resulting in the new kids champion Wouter Poleij, Junior champion Guillermo van Pamelen, Heavy weight champion Willem van Oosterhout.

2017 dok 3 junioren guillermo van pamelen

For my championship I had to drive 5 qualifier rounds on 90kg, with a single lap qualification and one pitstop required during the race. An additional point was granted for both pole position and fastest racelap. I felt very comfortable on the new track and on the first day I was never really challenged and could take home 3 times the maximum score, so I was very satisfied about day 1, while Rico Haarbosch did the same and some other guys were also still close in the ranking. On day 2 I was challenged much more during my heats by Romano Franssen, Mats de Jong and Lorenzo Stolk. With 2 average karts I was able to score pole position and victory twice, however I did not manage to grab also the fastest racelap with these karts. As Rico did so, he was one point ahead of me heading into the semi-finals. As we were placed first and second in the classification we were not in the same semi-finale and therefore we would meet only in the big final, a shame but that was how it was. In my semi-final I had to settle for second position for the first time as Selina drove a very strong race and took victory over me by a few seconds, I was now 4 points down on Rico as he capitalised on some hard battles during his race and drove easily to another first place. We then drove a shoot-out qualification for the big final, all finalists in the same kart one lap. It was very very close and when it was my turn Lorenzo set the best time thus far.

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My lap was not excellent, but luckily it was the fastest so far, with only Rico still to come. Top 5 in the shoot-out received extra points and the kart pick would be based on the starting order as well, so this was crucial. Rico did not make any mistakes and beat my time by 0.03 seconds, so close but it was Rico with the first kart pick. In the first laps of the race I could stay with him as he was defending, on my tail was Lorenzo trying to overtake me. For me the only goal was to score the title, but after Rico pulled away a few kart lengths I knew with this kart I had to focus on securing my second place in the final race. Lorenzo was close all race long but I was able to stay in front of him after the 2 pitstops we had to make. After 5 victories and 2 2nd places it was quite a good weekend for me, but unfortunately not enough to score a 4th consecutive DOK title. But Rico was a well-deserved successor and I want to congratulate him for a very strong weekend. I hope next year we face each other more often before the final race so we can battle it out on the circuit. 3rd place went to ladies champion Selina, who just scored enough points to hold of Lorenzo and became the first female driver to end up on the final podium, very well done! All in all it was a great weekend on the new track and nicely organised by the kart track.

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Polish Indoor Kart Championship

Ruben secures fourth PIKC podium in four years
Szczecin, April 29th & 30th 2017

The PIKC has quickly evolved into one of the most popular indoor karting events of Europe, only established in 2012 it now already is a certainty on the calendar in the spring. While a few years ago most drivers arrived only on Friday, now many Northern European drivers already hit the Polish tarmac by Thursday or even Wednesday. For me it was Friday afternoon when I crossed the Polish border for the fourth year in a row, looking forward to face a whole bunch of strong international opponents again. After a few practice sessions I felt ready for the championship and we dived into the swimming pool of the hotel on Friday night, already speculating on who would be the drivers to beat this weekend. On Saturday 3 heats for all drivers were on the planning, the traditional set up including a hotlap qualification and a single pitstop required, all on 90kg. The first race immediately was a cracker, featuring the top 4 of last years’ event and so I had a chance to challenge Sebastian Papke straight away. Starting only from 7th position I had a difficult race in front of me, but when the tyres came up to temperature I was able to work my way up through the field and could even challenge the leader and last years’ runner-up Christian Wolf. Performing my pitstop on the penultimate lap I could close in even further and on the very last corner I overtook Christian and secured my first win of the weekend.

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It then was a long wait until my second race, but at Silver Hotel & Gokart Centre you never have to be bored as there were many interesting races to follow and a lot of fellow countrymen to support from the side of the track. During day one it was the German driver Lars Ole-Jens who was impressively fast, scoring no less than 3 victories out of 3 races and showing Germany had more title contenders than just Sebastian Papke to offer! With a close second place behind young Dutchman Thom van Dijk in race 2 in reversed direction and a strong victory over Belgians Vermeulen (last years’ number 5) and Deloitte colleague Peter Neefs, I was very happy with my own results as well. After the first medals were awarded on Saturday evening the nice atmosphere remained until almost midnight in both the restaurant and swimming pool, when some chose to get some sleep and others opted to discover some more Szczecin nightlife. When a couple of drivers was still drunk or asleep it was good old Corné Snoep that powered away from his rivals in heat first heat of round 4. My round four and five went according to plan, scoring another second place behind my only teammate form last weekend during our winning 24 hours of Brussels, Mathias Grooten and in front of Artur Pel from Poland. In race 5 I could finally score my first triple with pole position, fastest lap and victory. With 3 out of 5 victories and a 2nd place as a drop result I showed I could perform strong in the less good karts as well and I was ready for the semi-finals.

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I was in the last semi-final and saw how the fast Germans Dennis Höller and Maxi Siese won the first two semis. I was pumped to do the same in race 3 and faced reigning world champion and my friend Rico Haarbosch for a third year in a row in the semi-final of the PIKC. While he was able to beat me in the two previous years it was now me who could pull the victory over the line in a thrilling race. I had to overtake both Rico and the strongest Polish driver of the weekend, Michal Grzyb and then won the race on consistency and a solid and fast pitstop, taking over the lead in the championship. A remarkable performance from Mellanie Motz who won the title ladies title over Selina Balneger and my girlfriend Edyta Paleczka as she was the only girl to make it to the 10-driver final line-up! Corné could celebrate his second master (35+) title and it was then time for the Junior final. Rico Haarbosch was the man to beat and took pole position in fashion for the final. He was challenged hard by the Polish youngsters Dawid Klarman (who in the end won the final) and Jakub Ziobro but Rico scored enough points to win his second PIKC junior title just in front of Jakub Ziobro, congratulations to the podium!

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In the final shootout where all 10 senior finalists drove the same kart for a hotlap a couple of important points were on the line. 2.5 for the pole position and 1.5 and 0.5 for P2 and P3 on the grid. It turned out to be a 5-man show, between Grooten, myself and the 3 Germans Papke, Ole-Jens and Siese. The 5 of us had an edge over the rest of the field all weekend and it was Siese to take pole with just 0.05 and 0.06 second advantage over Papke and myself in third spot. Kart differences were small and the best 2 karts were drawn in the back of the field, and so a very exciting final was about to start. I had kart 11 which was very fast on the straight but had an awful lot of understeer in left hand corners. This made it very difficult for me in some stages of the final. It was first Grooten who pitted from 4th position while the top 3 was on each other’s bumper. Papke then made his pitstop and I closed the small gap to Siese in just 2 laps. I decided to go for an attack and took over the lead in the race, but with this move we both lost some time to Papke. As the times were so close it was hard to make up this time again and when Siese also pitted and when I saw I didn’t win any time on Papke I dived into the pit as well. I came out on the track side by side with Mathias and Ole-Jens, but was on the outside and dropped back to virtually a 4th position in the race just before Siese. The title suddenly seemed to be out of reach as Papke in the lead only had to hold out Mathias who closed in by the final laps of the race.

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I hoped to be second in the final ranking but by driving the fastest lap it was Maximilian Siese who grabbed second place just 0.5 point in front of me. A very nice championship came to an end and I have to congratulate Sebastian Papke with a 3rd title in 4 years time, very strong performance from the tall German racer. My third place was disappointing for a few minutes, knowing I was really close and realising I had won 4 races including the semi-final, but I also knew that being on the podium here for a 4th consecutive year is very nice and so I could be happy with this outcome at the end of the day! Compliments to organisers Remik Drzazga and Bartek Malutko, bringing to live an event like this for so many people involved is far from easy and there will always be some criticism, but I have to say hats off for a great edition of PIKC 2017 which I enjoyed all weekend long. The level of drivers was again very high, prizes were great and things like the timing schedule, kart draw, ranking updates, live timing and live coverage and medal ceremonies were very professional. From my side I cannot wait until next year!

Photos courtesy of: Susi Trauernicht

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Belgain National Championship

Ruben falls short during special final after strong weekend
Dolhain, April 1st and 2nd 2017

The second edition of the Belgian National Championship (BNC), organized by former indoor kart world champions Mathias Grooten and Gregory Laporte took place during the first weekend of April 2017. Last year I couldn’t make it to this official KWC qualifier but this time I was present to race at the challenging track of Dolhain in the east of Belgium. About 50 drivers and 10 juniors subscribed for this very low budget but very high level indoor kart event. The atmosphere was great all weekend and we could drive a lot of race with hotlap qualifying, pitstop and shortcut against some of the best drivers from Belgium, Holland and a couple of internationals from Germany and the UK. In my first race I was battling for the victory with Benjamin Kaivers but unfortunately got stuck under one of the tire walls after placing an attack for first position, coming out of the corner 3 karts wide, but there was not enough space and I was pressed into the tires. This was immediately my drop result so I had to start from all the way down to work my way back up in the ranking.

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This went quite well as I was able to score a 3rd, 2 second places and a victory in my 5th and final heat of the day after a great battle with Belgian Bjorn Vermeulen. Therefor I moved back up in the top 10 again and I was eager to score well on the final day of competition. Benjamin Kaivers and Mats de Jong were very strong on the first day, and so was Rico Haarbosch, but he made some mistakes and had to come back from behind as well. Mats was unbeaten in all of his five heats and I faced him in the first semi final on Sunday morning. I drew a decent kart and was able to take pole position away from Mats. The race went well and I could win the semi quite easily!! A super win which took me from 7th position to 4th in the standings. The other semi finals were won by Kaivers and Rico. The the Juniors drove their final race and the champion turned out the be Bluestar junior Bastien Cabrera, he was very strong all weekend and beat the Dutch Value Juniors Eliano de Vos (2nd), Jarno Hermans (3rd) and Mike Dijkgraaf (4th). A lot of Spanish juniors took part in the championship and the sportsmanship we saw was great!

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Then the final of the masters, with just 10 hotlaps in 10 different karts. For me a bit of an anti climax, as you want to see fights, overtakes and strategy on the track, but now it was quite boring for the spectators. It was however a very fair way to show your speed and according to the ranking so far you got some penalty tenths, one for every position you were behind the leader. Mats de Jong proved to be the best this weekend, he was very fast in all karts and was crowned BNC champion 2017, big congratulations to him, very well deserved. Rico Haarbosch was a deserved runner-up, the only one to really chase Mats in the final! For me it was not the best final, I made some mistakes and lost especially time in the best kart. This unfortunately cost me the 3rd spot on the podium by less than a tenth of a second. Benjamin Kaivers ended up 3rd just before Romano Franssen, me and Thom van Dijk who was also really strong this weekend. The other finalists were German Dennis Holler, Nick van Ostade (Be), Christian Douven (NL) and Logan Sougne (Be). Compliments for the organization, I think all people really enjoyed this championship!

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British Rental Kart Championship 2017

Ruben in style to unbelievable 4th consecutive title
Milton Keynes (GB), 21/22 January 2017

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On Friday the 20th of January I stepped into the car together with my mother, sister Annelien and her boyfriend Joris and my girlfriend Edyta on our way towards another edition of the British Rental Kart Championship (BRKC). It is traditionally the first big event of the year on the calendar and the BRKC is always one I put in my agenda with a big exclamation mark behind it! The organization in the hands of Bradley Philpot, together with the hosts of Formula Fast indoor karting and the finishing touch of the live streaming and commentating by James Auld makes this event a very professional one. It is no longer the question if all 100 available spots will be filled but rather when this will happen. I was one of the lucky names to be on the entry list for the 2017 edition and on Friday afternoon my weekend kicked-off with a couple of practice session on my so beloved track. After 2 short sessions the feeling was right again and I called it a day, already looking forward to the start of the heat races and catching up with some friends from all over Europe.

brkc2017 ruben mathias

On Saturday morning the championship went underway with the first of no less than 40 heats of 20 minutes, preceded by a one-lap qualifying and including a mandatory pitstop. The pitstop system with 2 lasers you have to break for a certain time period works great and leaves some space to gain an advantage over your competitors, however it could be risky as well and already in the first few heats we saw people making mistakes by leaving to early. In my first heat I immediately faced some strong competitors like Russen Endean (GB), Matt Bartsch (PL) and Ramon Pineiro (SP). I was able to qualify in pole position just before British Simon Cleaver, which was a bit of a surprise. In the race I could pull away from the others and Matt was able to move on to second position, a nice start of the weekend for me. We then moved on to the alternative layout for heats 2 & 3, which was pretty similar to last year’s alternative track. My second heat was halfway through the afternoon and was called the ‘heat of death’ by many people, not in the last place because the complete top 3 from last year’s edition was represented, with Lewis Manley (GB) and Stefan Verhofste (BE). I drew kart number 15 which appeared to be a very decent one, which enabled me to take pole position with a lead of over half a second to the first challenger. Calum Conway was particularly strong in this heat and was able to fight himself to a second position at the finish line.

brkc 2017 kristof dielis 2

There was still 9 hours of BRKC racing to go on day one, but for me the day was already finished and so I could change clothes and watch some of the other races while enjoying my two wins of today. During the day I saw a couple of drivers winning their first 2 heats, fellow countryman Thom van Dijk, Belgian Mathias Grooten and British Bradley Philpot and Sean Brierley. But close behind were many strong drivers only just one or a few points down. My sister Annelien was doing a great job as well, she was one of the 50 drivers who already drove her third heat and managed to score a 1st, 3rd and 3rd place, while the last one should have been a 1st as well as she was bumped out of the track at the end of the straight unfortunately. On day 2 I was a lot more nervous than on the first day, I had the feeling that I had a chance of going all the way once more and when ‘the money’ is on the line the tension rises. Heat 3 was on paper my easiest group, but it was this heat that in the qualifying lap I was challenged by Belgian Sander de Baets who only just missed pole position that I stole from him with 0.001 second. In the race he stayed close behind in kart 15, but luckily I could shake him off with a very good pitstop. For the first time I had to take some risk in the pit this year.

brkc2017 ruben by tim andrew

Then in heat 4 I was up against Sean Brierley, a fast driver who looked even more dangerous with a mighty beard on his face. I felt very comfortable and it seemed there were no bad karts, so in every kart you could go for a win. However you cannot underestimate any heat and I have a lot of respect for Sean who showed already last year to be a very strong competitor. In the qualifying I was 0.07 in front of Sean, while in the race I could slowly build up a gap and win my fourth heat of the weekend. Sean would later on during the day just miss out on the final and ended up the championship in 11th position.

brkc 2017 finalists

It was time for the semifinals and I was the only one to complete the series of heats with a perfect score, closely followed by Mathias and Regis Gosselin (BE) just one point behind. I deemed these drivers the most dangerous and they both won their semifinal! However many more top racers were present in the semis and no mistakes were allowed. For the first time I missed pole position this weekend, which was claimed by British Chris Daines. The top 4 was within 0.035 of a second, ridiculously close, as we are used to in BRKC! The race was again the same format as the heats and like in heat 4 we were back on the traditional layout. My kart missed some top speed which made it a tad more difficult to place an attack at the end of the straight, and I decided to try to follow Chris and pull away together.
Thom van Dijk and Andy Gaban (BE) behind me kept following though, and when Thom started to increase the pressure I decided to go for a late move into the main hairpin. This worked out well as I was able to take the race lead and after Chris made his pitstops I could create a little margin by driving just a bit more consistent than the guys behind. I knew second place would be enough to maintain the lead in the ranking and thereby the first kart pick for the final, so I didn’t want to take all the risks in the pit. As the guys in 3rd and 4th were still close I could not take it too easy in the pits, my pitstop was solid and I came out in the lead again, I also won the semifinal in front of Chris and Thom. A few big names dropped after the semis, including 2014 runner up Annelien (19th), 2015 runner up Stefan (29th) and Bradley (13th) who had to drive a very difficult kart after switching karts before qualifying. I was interview right after my race and they asked me about the winning streak of 12 races since the semifinal of 2015 in which I finished 2nd behind Annelien. I knew it was going very well but at the same time there was only one race that counted also in this weekend, the big final which was about to go underway.

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As I was able to choose the first kart I knew I had a good kart so qualifying was going to be crucial. Even though I won the BRKC in the past 3 years at this track, I never managed to come out first in the shoot-out qualifying for the final, having qualified 2nd in 2015 and 2016. Now it wasn’t so easy as well as we saw the laptimes going slower and slower as the shoot-out progressed. Mathias only managed to qualify 6th being the 8th driver out and also Regis could not beat the times of the first 2 qualifiers Sam Spinnael (BE) and Lewis Manley (fastest so far). I knew I had to put in a very good lap and took all the risks by going flat out. It paid off, I heard to sound of the crowd going wild just after I crossed the line and checked the score board showing my name all the way on top, I was delighted and tried to stay calm as the final still had to start. After a quick photoshoot the engines were started and the 30 minute final include 2 pitstops was started.

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I was lucky to have Lewis and Sam behind me, they had the 2 last kart picks and I could pull away directly from Lewis. Regis anticipated on the defending driving of Lewis and immediately dived into the pits in lap 2. Sam followed a lap later and as Mathias didn’t storm to the front that fast, I knew I had to keep an eye on especially Regis who overtook Sam with his pitstop. Laptimes were pretty similar but when the tyres warmed up a bit more, I was able to outpace them by on average a tenth or so per lap. From this moment I knew I could well win the final again. I decided to save my stops for the end of the race, there was no reason to visit the pit early and I overtook some back markers which happened without any problems. Mathias moved on to 2nd position in the race but still had to make a pitstop, like Thom in 3rd position. A train of Lewis defending his 7th position in front of Matt, Chris and Andy was causing Mathias to make his first pitstop a bit earlier then planned. I waited until I would come out ahead of them after my first stop which I made like 8 minutes before the end of the race, not much later being followed by my second stop. I didn’t have to take any risks and came out 3-4 seconds in front of Regis who had pulled away from Sam. Sam and Mathias then fought for the last podium position including a free world championship ticket. Mathias overtook Sam but then made a big mistake by leaving the pits too early and fell all the way down in the ranking. Sam capitalized and made it to third, before the other youngster Thom and Bjorn Vermeulen (BE) who came home in a very good 5th place.

brkc 2017 podium

Some people might think that is normal for me to win yet another (BRKC) title, but let me be clear, it is absolutely not. Being in the final of an event like BRKC is already something really special and every time I’m able to lift the biggest trophy on the top step of the podium is such a moment of ultimate glory which feels better than anything else. Getting the respect from so many other competitors out there and reading the reactions from many people from really all over the world (and I don’t exaggerate) who followed the races via the magnificent live stream is so great. BRKC is an event with such a powerful concept and I’m grateful to everyone who participated and contributed to making this event as good as it is. Likely I will be beaten in BRKC some time, the time will learn us when it will be, but I would almost say that if I would be beaten some year I hope it’s by a British driver because the British people make us feel very welcome over and over again every year. To be continued in 2018!

Photos courtesy of: Tim Andrew, Bradley Philpot, Edyta Paleckza, Marc Alexander Stordeur, Belinda Norris, Janneke Boutens.

Race Report and Full Results on BRKC.co.net

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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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Dutch Open Kartchallenge 2016

Ruben successfully defends Dutch title
Kart Centre Roosendaal, March 12/13

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My second KWC qualifier of the year was the Dutch Open Kartchallenge at the indoor track of Roosendaal. After winning the British Rental Kart Championship in January I was looking forward to face many top level indoor karters again. This year almost 80 participants were present participating in 4 different categories. The kids drove in the smaller rental karts and showed great talent and motivation during the weekend. After 4 rounds of qualifiers the young lady Tess Verschoor was leading before 3 other members of the The Dutch Value racing team. In the finale however things changed quickly as 11 year old Mike Dijkgraaf grabbed the lead and drove to an impressive victory, resulting in a title for him. 2015 champion Eliano de Vos secured 2nd place in a thrilling final over Tess. The Junior category is driven with a minimum weight of 75kg and drivers under 18 years of age challenge each other for the first of 3 KWC tickets. Rico Haarbosch was from another level this weekend, he scored a first place in all of his 6 races, celebrating his third Dutch Junior title in a row. His Dutch Value teammate Ian Verschoor, older brother of Tess, showed great shape as well by claiming 2nd place after having won 3 heats and his semi final. Mika Mathia surprised with a strong performance to take the final podium position. In the heavy weight category it was Roel de Jong who dominated the championship, he won every single race, scored also pole position and fastest lap in all of his 5 races and was the deserved champion. Second and third place went to Dutch Virgil de Lange and Mike Mulder. In 6th position we find French Arnaud Tinet, who made is debut on the DOK having been out of indoor karting for more than a year after BRKC 2015, it was great to see him back racing and together with many other international drivers he contributed to the fantastic athmosphere at and around the track.

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The main category on 90kg had over 40 participants for the first time. British Sean Brierley and Polish Adrian Ziejewski were 2 internationals who were able to take home a podium trophy, both driving the semi-finals as well. For the top 10 positions however it turned out the be a battle between the Dutch and Belgian drivers. I had a very nice first day of competition scoring three victories including pole position and bestlap. We drove the track in both directions for the first time during the DOK and I was very happy about all my hotlaps which were very important. In my 4th heat I got beaten for the first time this tournament by Mike Bartelen, a very quick local driver who was on the podium in both 2014 and 2015. Before the semi finals we were tied in points after drop result. I was in the first semi and was able to win that race just in front of the two quick ladies Selina Balneger and Mellanie Motz. In the other semi Belgian Mats de Jong demonstrated his great speed again by taking maximum points. The 13 best drivers moved on to the big final, with Mike and Mats only 3 and 4 points behind me.

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All drivers had to put in a single lap qualification in the same kart, like in BRKC. It was extremely close and 6 drivers all drove 36.8. Danny van Domburgh was the first to go to 36.76 and Mike and Mats could not beat that time. Good for me, as I knew there were 3 points on the line for pole position, and I took them all by driving a decent 36.65. Danny and Selina set for 2nd and 3rd and off we went for a 30 minute final including not 1 but 2 pitstops. The final was very exciting and I was able to pull away straight from the start. Tenth by tenth I extended my lead to finish the final ahead of Selina only by 3.6 seconds. Selina just came short on 3rd place in the final ranking, as Mike ended up 3rd in the final, giving him 2nd place and Mats holding off Danny for 4th in the final, which was just enough to claim his first podium at the DOK. However Selina didn't leave empty handed, as she won the ladies title for the 2nd time and thereby secured a free KWC entry as well, 2nd and 3rd place went to Mellanie and Anne Mathijssen. For the international drivers there were special trophies for the top 3, consisting of Mats de Jong, Christophe Verhoeven and Nick van Ostade, a full Belgian podium. For me the 3rd consecutive title was there, a big relief and I was very very satisfied. A big compliment has to be made towards the organizers for putting down a tremendous weekend again, time schedules were maintained perfectly, kart differences were very small and results, pictures and draws were updated very quickly. I want to congratulate all winners, thank all the people for the support and I look forward meeting you all again next year for the DOK 2017.

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British Rental Kart Championship 2016

Ruben in top shape to claim third consecutive title
Milton Keynes, January 15-17th

It’s very early on Friday morning 15th of January 2016 and raining hard in the Netherlands. For a moment I wish I was in a warm and sunny country. I’m not sure if Great-Britain in that case would be the place to be at the moment, but regardless of the weather conditions I had good reasons to step into our car and start a road- and boat trip towards to United Kingdom. The British Rental Kart Championship was about to begin, a championship I’d rather not miss since the time it is organised at Formula Fast Karting. Both the organisation (Bradley Philpot) and the crew of the kart track have proven to be exceptionally professional over the past years in organising a rental go-kart event. Together with 4 Dutch friends and some of our parents we entered the boat with a delay of more than an hour. Entering the UK means we use miles, not kilometres, we pay in pounds, not in Euro’s, we talk in English instead of Dutch, and quite importantly, we drive on the left hand side of the road, not on the right. I love to come in England, not in the last place because the people are very nice and sport minded, but also because there is the BRKC. Seven out of eight times I have been in the UK was because of karting, mostly BRKC. Over the past two years, with the great new one-weekend set-up of this KWC qualifier, I managed to win the event twice.

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After two sessions of practice we went to the hotel on Friday evening, the pace was good and I immediately felt comfortable on the track again. While traditionally taking a sauna in our hotel I was looking forward to the start of the weekend, 40 heat races were in the planning and that means BRKC 2016 was completely sold out, 100 drivers from many different countries, what an entry list starring multiple British and European top drivers. While the heat was certainly on in my sauna, I expected the heat to be on tomorrow as well on track! Some of the unique features of BRKC proved themselves again on the first day of racing. To start we have the commentary of James Auld, a BRKC legend who has a voice of steel that can produce clear sound for 48 consecutive hours, simply incredible. Live streaming is another, many people can follow the races from behind their desk and that makes the event internationally well known and popular. It is via live streaming that many of my Dutch friends saw me taking two victories on Saturday, a great start of my weekend and especially my hotlaps were good, I could take it easy during the pit stops, which gives some comfort. Despite winning 2 heats quite easily, I noticed the level of my opponents is again very high, something that keeps you sharp and challenged. I know (I hope) that four more races are to come and only the last one crucial to win, my goal is the final and nothing else.

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On Sunday morning I felt a bit more nervous than on Saturday, it was snowing outside and we had to be on track early as Annelien was in the very first session of the day. Annelien was very fast again, like previous years, she won 2 races and finished 2nd once so far, the track seems to suit us particularly well. I observed the track, preparing for my 3rd heat. I knew today my 2 heats were strong, directly facing Ed White, the talented British guy who deemed unbeatable last year, until the final. I knew I had to put in a hotlap without mistakes. I was able to drive my best lap of the weekend, assuring me pole position by over 3 tenths of a second, wow! In the race Ed didn’t let me run away easily, though I could win the race without being in real danger. When I went upstairs again I realised I had beaten the track record during qualifying. I was asked to come to James Auld and Will Buxton for an interview. After this race I knew the eyes were on me, people literally quoted I had a big target on my back now! Of course this is nice, many people showed great respect and appreciation, but on the other hand the pressure increased. In the previous 2 years many people saw me as one of the favourites, but probably not the big favourite. This time it was different but I knew I had nothing in hand yet, luckily I like some pressure especially when feeling confident.

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The 4th heat which was on the alternate layout like the 2nd race was my toughest heat, though I won it with good margin as other top drivers like Russel Endean, Stefan Verhofste, Matt Bartsch and Bjorn Vermeulen battled hard over 2nd place. The excitement rose as the ranking for the semi-finals was published, some disappointed as they just missed out, others very happy as they made it and/or avoided the strong first semi final! I was in that first semi and faced my sister, my The Dutch Value teammate Corné Snoep and other frontrunners like Ed White, Oliver Bayani and Stefan Verhofste. The kart differences are typically very small at Formula Fast, resulting from hard working mechanics and definitely worth a big compliment. If you talk about kart differences here, it is 1 or maybe 2 tenths of a second a lap. In my semi final I experienced once more that even these smallest differences are essential for the result. I qualified 3rd just behind Oliver Bayani and Stefan Verhofsté. It was very slippery on the track and the top 3 slowly build up a lead over the rest of the field. In the first couple of laps I had to give everything not to let Oliver and Stefan go. Then almost halfway through the race I found some extra pace again and decided to pit, taking some risks this time. My pitstop was very good but Stefan still came out in front a few laps later. Together we put down some very good laptimes and virtually overtook Oliver. At that moment I overtook Stefan and I won the race, a very nice result for me.

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The other two semi finals were won by British Lewis Manley (3rd in 2014) and Lee Hackett (2-times champion), their eyes were certainly on the big trophies. The Dutch team drove extremely well this weekend, all regularly finishing in top positions, but some disappointing results in the semi finals resulted in the fact that I was the only Dutchman in the final. Especially The Dutch Value mate Rico Haarbosch and sister Annelien were really close, but just missed out. The final was set with Oliver Bayani (Gb), Bradley Philpot (Gb), Matt Bartsch (Pl), Ed White (Gb), Sean Brierly (Gb), Regis Gosselin (Be), Stefan Verhofste (Be), Lee Hackett (Gb), Lewis Manley (Gb) and I. this was also the order for the one lap qualifying, all in the same kart. Now every mistake counts, this is the moment to shine! The top 5 was very close again, but I was not the one in pole position, I qualified 2nd just behind Stefan Verhofste. Luckily I was the one to first pick my kart for the grand final, so I knew I had one of the better karts. The final was a 30-minute race including 2 pitstops, the grid was set and the tension was there. In the first lap I already felt my kart was really good. I positioned myself right and in the third lap I took the lead on the exact same position as where I did it in the previous 2 years. This was the moment and it worked out. I gave everything to pull away and I managed to build up a lead, improving my own lap record while others were fighting hard over positions. Lewis Manley worked his way up from 4th to 2nd, while Stefan could hold off the others to claim another podium spot and thereby again a KWC entry ticket.

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For me the race went perfect, I was able to finish the weekend like I wanted, winning the final for the 3rd consecutive time, what-a-feeling!!! It is amazing to win such an event, but to complete the hat trick is super special. I can only say thank you to everyone who helped making this event what it is and also to the people who supported me during the weekend, at the side of the track or from Holland! Taking home the 1000 pound prize money, the KWC entry ticket and especially the biggest trophy is another dream come through. Last year I received many congratulations, including from Genevieve Reason who at that time was part of the Formula Fast crew. Later that year she died in a dramatic car accident, for me a strong reason to dedicate this victory to her! I hope to be back again next year, hopefully with another shot at the title.

Photos: Tim Andrew

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BRKC Preview

Ruben goes to England again for BRKC 2016
Milton Keynes, January 15-17th 2016

Since 2014 the British Rental Kart Championship takes place at the indoor track of Formula Fast at Milton Keynes in January. As a KWC qualifying event BRKC attracts many British and foreign drivers every year and its popularity is ever growing. This year a record number of 100 entries has been reached, all aiming for the biggest cup and the 2016 BRKC title. Together with my Dutch Value teammates Corné Snoep and Rico Haarbosch and a handful of other Dutch drivers including my sister Annelien (2nd in 2014), Lorenzo Stolk, Thom van Dijk and Anne D’Hondt we will travel to the UK this year. Having won the title for 2 years in a row, I’ll go for the best possible result in every single race again this year. Many local and European drivers will give make the competition fierce again this year, like Britain’s Ed White (3rd in 2015), Lee Hackett (2x former champion), Lewis Manley (3rd in 2014), Michael O’Brien (2015 finalist), Polish Mateusz Bartsch (2015 finalist) and Belgian Stefan Verhofste (2nd in 2015). Official practice starts at Friday 15th of January. This year 2 different layouts will be used to challenge all drivers again. The championship format hasn’t changed much compared to last year, 90kg minimum weight, 4 heats of 20 minutes (divided in 10 groups of 10 per round, 1 pitstop) will set the ranking to determine the 30 semi-finalists. Only the 10 best drivers will go through to the big final. The 30 minute final including 2 pitstops will unveil the champion, winning the final means winning the title, the prize money and a KWC entry ticket.

The event will be fully broadcasted online with commentating of the legendary James Auld, don’t miss it:

http://livestream.com/accounts/16838646/events/4696618?t=1452941905

Live-timing: http://ffkbanbury.clubspeedtiming.com/cs-speedscreen/#/1