Ruben Boutens

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

24 hours Dubai

BlueStar experiences unique trip in the Middle East
Dubai (UAE), 14-15 December 2018

In 2017 BlueStar won the endurance championship at Karting Eupen, for which we were awarded a free entry in the 24 hours of Dubai 2018. At that moment this still felt like far away. On 10 December 2018 I however stepped in the plane towards the United Arab Emirates. Together with my girlfriend and 6 other friends from our team we went to Dubai for a memorable week. We combined the race with a great week full of activities like a spectacular speedboat tour alongside the coast of Dubai, a Sahara trip including sandboarding, quad driving, camel riding, 4x4 Jeep touring through the dunes and a BBQ at sunset. We further enjoyed the impressive city of Dubai around the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the beach, some amazing restaurants and hotels in Dubai and a huge collection of supercars cruising through the city. With 28 degrees it was a great place to spend time during winter and on Wednesday evening we first went to the Dubai Kartdrome next to the large Dubai Autodrome.

After one hour of practice for our team (Yoan Medart, Mathias Grooten, Romano Franssen, Gregory Laporte and myself) we had a good impression of the track, but we didn’t feel like fast enough already to challenge the fastest drivers. Even though we had a great team, we dampened our expectations as our experience on the track was very limited compared to the teams participating in the Dubai endurance series. We had a pitbox with TV screen to follow the live standings and laptimes. The track itself was very big and had a cool lay-out. In the free practice on Friday morning, every driver had to drive a few laps and we tried to get a good kart for the first stint. Every time you entered the pitlane you had to change karts and we tried to change until we had a good one to start the race with. This didn’t really succeed, and in a chaotic 9-lap sprint race to determine the start order, Romano was positioned around P10. During the race we had to make 24 kart changes with a maximum stint time of 1.5 hour per driver. With always 3 karts in the pitlane and a draw to determine your next kart, it was far from easy to keep track of all the karts in the pits and decide the right moment to come in. In the first 8 hours of the race we lost already a lot of time on the frontrunners while we were struggling in the midfield.

This was a combination of not having the right pace yet, not having the luck of picking the karts we wanted during the pitstops and some tactical mistakes to drive to too long with an average or bad kart as we didn’t optimally keep track of where the good karts were. As the race progressed we improved our driving style and lines, and also improved out strategy and tactics. It was not always easy to judge how far we could go in terms of track limits, as sometimes teams received penalties whereas other teams were never even warned for crossing the white lines and curbstones. We moved up from a position between P15-20 to a top 10 spot. Apart from my first stint where I was too slow, I was very happy with my driving as I could win some place in my 2nd, 3rd and 4th stints. In the last hours of the race we were more often amongst the fastest teams on the track and that made the result a bit more bearable. In the end we finished far behind the winners, but I think if we would have to chance to do the race again, we would finish much higher. In the end we finished on position 8, not a very special result but the experience to race here with so many good teams on this track was definitely a very special one we will not quickly forget. All in all, the organization looked very professional and I would like to thank Karting Eupen for supporting us in our participation in the 24 hours of Dubai.

25 hours of Eupen

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 hours of Eupener Karting

BlueStar Racing again on top in exciting 24h
Eupen, 7 / 8 October 2017

The 24 hours of Eupener Karting is one of the most prestigious and best organised 24 hour kartraces of the indoor kart calendar. This year I was participating again with the Belgium BlueStar Racing team, together with my friend Yoan Medart, Mathias Grooten, Romano Franssen and Rico Haarbosch, supported by our former world champion indoor karting, Gregory Laporty was our team captain and on the side of the track all weekend long. On Saturday morning things got started with a 20 minute grid formation sessions, for us done by Rico. He was struggling a bit to get everything out of the kart and lined up in 6th position. Meanwhile our BlueStar Junior youngsters took pole position with Logan Sougne in the kart. 21 teams started the race on Saturday morning 11 o’clock divided in 2 divisions. In the elite division where we were competing we only had to drive on 80kg, and all 21 teams would get the same 22 karts. We drove stints of just over one hour and switched kart and (almost all times) driver as well.

171008 24h total eupen bluestar

In the first few hours of the race it is always hard to say where you really are because some teams have had some good karts already while others will get these later on during the race. However what we did know after an hour of 3 when I first entered the track, was that the competition was again very strong. Especially the German DMC 1 team and the Belgian Modave were going really strong and were ahead of us. We were even more than a lap down already so I started our chase. My first stint went pretty well although there was a lot of grip, all karts had new tires at the start of the race and the track was becoming faster and more grippy lap after lap. Mathias was arriving a bit later because of work and so did especially Rico and Yoan a lot of stints in the first half of the race. After 12 hours a direction change was planned and Yoan preferred this direction, while Rico was planning to go to sleep at night. Modave kept driving very fast, also in the karts that we already had and we really had a challenge on our hands. BlueStar Junior was going very strong and made up their quest for a podium position as well.

171008 24h total eupen podium

As the sunset was well behind us the direction change was coming closer and we prepared tactically. This is always a key moment in the endurance races in Eupen and together with Mathias and Greg I wrote down our strategy while Romano was flying in the kart on track. After a few nerve-racking moments where we spent some of our required minimum time in the pitlane, like many other teams, it turned out that we won had won some time when the safety kart came out on the track, however we could have done better a bit better. At the halfway point we were virtually 40 seconds behind the leaders of Modave, it looked like it was going to be a battle between the 2 of us. In the night Romano, Mathias and me did a lot of work and slowly but for sure we were closing in on the leaders. With a double stint I finished my 5th hour and Romano took over again. He closed the gap and with just over 3 hours to go we virtually took over the lead. Rico was back but he had to wait somewhat longer as Mathias was driving another great stint in the morning.

171008 24h total eupen podium bluestar

We were looking good and increasing our lead, though we also knew that Modave still had some good karts at the end of the race. Romano was fit enough to do a 6th stint and as he was likely our best driver in this race, we were set to give the final mental punch to our rivals. Gregory still at the side of the track gave us some good peptalks when needed, he was of enormous value and the team spirit remained very good as most of the races with BlueStar. We supported also our Junior team and vice versa. Yoan took over from Romano with one hour to go and had a lead of 1 lap, we could almost smell the victory but we had to stay sharp. Rico stepped into the kart for the very final part. The victory was not in danger, even though we lost our lap advantage, we appeared to be the strongest team for the second year in a row, with a lead of about 30 seconds we won the race, YEAH! We did it again, personally my 10th victory but winning with BlueStar is always very special on itself. We would like to thank our sponsor M&S Construct and congratulate both Modave and DMC 1 with a very strong performance and their 2nd and 3rd position in the final standing. Just coming short for the podium but very much worth mentioning, BlueStar Junior ended up 4th and that is promising for future races! See you next year.

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24 hours of Brussels

Ruben & Mathias perform the impossible!
Brussels, 22&23 April 2017

It was in 2010 when I really discovered the art called endurance racing. It was in April of that year when I was invited for one of the biggest 24-hour indoor kart races in Europe to drive in one of the top team consisting of Bart van de Vel, Mathias Grooten and Nikki Swannet. We won that race, and during this race I drove a stint of over 2 hours for the first time in my life, a new experience. In the years after I realised how special it was to have won this race, only in 2015 I managed to win it for the second time. It was around that time I started speculating with Mathias about driving the race just with the two of us. An incredible idea which started as a crazy plan but late 2016 we decided to finally go for it in the 2017 edition. Prepared as much as we could we arrived in Brussels on the 22nd of April, ready for one of the biggest challenges in our karting careers. Although we were going to drive the race with 2, we had the help of a couple of our Bluestar teammates and especially Robin Borremans who wanted to help us during the entire weekend in coaching and tactics, so we could focus on racing and recovery afterwards as much as possible.

170423 24h team

After the free practice we decided that Mathias was going to do the 15 minute-qualifying session. We had an average kart and Mathias managed to qualify in third position. During the race we had to drive 6 hours on minimum 90kg, the remainder on at least 80kg. We didn’t quite have an exact schedule of how we were going to divide the stints but we wanted to do the hours on 90kg with the best 3 karts. We had to do both 10 kart and driver changes which means stints of 2 hours and 10 minutes. During the first 4 hours we both drove a good stint with average karts, first falling back a bit to fifth place and then coming back to second place. A couple of strong competitors were Bluestar 2 with some world class drivers, Hola Lulu Racing and DWT Racing, all with a very strong 4 or 5-man line-up. After Mathias did the first hours on 90kg I was going for a double stint of almost 4 and a half hour. In the beginning of the race we were every time a bit faster than our opponents with the same karts, so we could take the lead and start building an advantage which we might have needed approaching the second part of the race. During this stint the lights fell out for like five minutes and the race was not stopped. Especially inside it was extremely dark and also dangerous as some drivers slowed down. I tried to stay up to speed as much as possible as I saw the score board was still on and we won a lot of time here, sometimes even up to 3 seconds a lap. After my second stint I still felt ok and Mathias did sleep for a while. In the next stint a change of direction took place, a novelty in the 27-year history of this event, and it was done with no team winning or losing any time! We then had another strong kart and Mathias drove again one stint on 90kg, because we wanted to change the weight to 80kg again afterwards.

170423 24h podium

This worked out well as Mathias was again one of the fastest guys on track even with 90kg. The other side of the medal was that I had little time to recover after my long stint, having had my second massage during the race. I felt during this third stint that I was losing a bit of energy, I still drove good laptimes but the consistency was a bit less good. We were 2 laps ahead of our competitors but I was worried at this time, knowing how long we still had to go. At the end of my stint it started raining just before the kart change and Mathias then continued after having to puke just before stepping into the kart. After eating a bit, I wanted to go to bed as quick as possible and asked my teammates to wake me up when needed. I could sleep for an hour of 2 and was then waked up again. Mathias was driving for 3 hours and I had to prepare again. The sleep did help me, and before I stepped in the kart once more I took some painkillers, some energy drink and a couple of shots of sugar. Like in my previous stint I wore a neck protector (something I practically never do) and a sweater over my suit to feel less pain. During the driver change Mathias shouted at me, ‘keep pushing, keep pushing’, a little bit extra motivation and out on the track I was again. It went well, I could maintain our 2-lap lead and started to enjoy the race again while the sun came up. Slowly I started to believe in something special. With 4 and a half hour to go Mathias took over the steering wheel again and DWT was still dangerous, starting to close in slightly and coming back to one and a half lap behind while we had to were a driver change behind and still had to drive 1 hour and 45 minutes on 90kg.

170423 24h mathias en ruben

I was then facing Filipe Vieira who was closing in on me as he drove on 80kg, DWT was very strong this race and the race was not over yet. Luckily, I was able to still drive fast and consistent times and could limit the loss. We were strongly supported from the side of the track and after the last driver change Mathias came out on track just 35 seconds in front of DWT. We were surviving on our very last portion of energy but the finish was coming closer. And after 24 hours we were the ones who saw the chequered flag first, we did it, we made it, it was amazing!! A magnificent performance and a fantastic feeling when we realised we had won one the 24 hours of Brussels just with the 2 of us. Both mentally and physically it was exhausting and that made it the best victory of my karting career so far. As many people told us beforehand we would not be able to remain competitive until the end of the race, it made it even more special and the admiration and appreciation of our opponents and the spectators was great. When opening the bottles of champagne on the podium and lifting the trophy with our last bit of power we didn’t feel the pain, but a couple of hours later we both suffered a lot. DWT finished the race in a very well deserved 2nd place on just 38 seconds behind us. Bluestar 2 took home the third position being 5 laps down on us, beating Hola Lulu with just a single lap. The days after were not the best in terms of physical fitness, but it was worth the pain more than ever. We want to thank our sponsors Foamzoo and Kinepolis and our Bluestar teammates and friends who supported us during the race!

Photos courtesy of: Serge Coppieters

170423 24h champagne

24 hours of Eupener Karting

Bluestar takes home sensational victory
Eupener, September 31st & October 1st 2016

The 24 hours of Eupener Karting is one of the very best indoor kart races on the calender, certainly one you don’t want to miss! I had the honour to be part of Bluestar Racingteam again this weekend, one of the favourites for the podium positions and our team consisted of Grooten, Medart, Foldesi, Franssen and my for the weekend. Our team became even strong with former world champ Gregory Laporte being on the side of the track for the entire race, being responsible for the tactics and strategy. Strategy is crucial in these kind of endurance races, 28 teams were represented including many top teams from Germany and Belgium which do not allow you to make any tactical mistakes. The race started with a long qualifying session where the German Avia Racing took pole position, we started only in 14th position. Just before the start Romano however discovered our choke was still opened and this was holding us back big time. At the start of the race at 9pm on Friday evening Romano launched himself forward and went up to a top 3 position surprisingly quick!

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Mathias, Romano and Yoan drove the first 6 hours of the race in reversed direction before the first of 3 direction changes took place. We had to drive 6 out of 29 stints on 100kg and Mathias took the first. We drove on 100kg with the best karts, trying to minimalise the loss during these stints. Mathias was immediately impressive and was able to match the pace of many teams on 80kg. Then in the middle of the night the race was stopped because of a problem with the timing system. Unfortunately, this was just when kart changes were taking place, making it hard for the organisation to come up with a fair solution. After almost 1 and a half hour the race was restarted in the other direction and all teams got their next kart and were put back in position of before the last kart change. This was not ideal for us, as we lost some time being picked up by the safety kart as we were the leader in the race. Tristan and I were making our first appearances in the early morning and I drove 2 stints on 100kg, it went very well. My second stint was a double one, the last part driving on 80kg.

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When the sun came up again in the morning I had to leave the track for some hours because of another race in Brussels. During these hours our team did a fantastic job, constantly maintaining a top 3 position. When I came back the situation was better than it looked, being almost 8 laps down on last year’s winner Modave. Every team had to spend 1720 seconds in the pits during the race, making at least 35 pitstops (of which 28 kart changes) and we were far ahead in terms of time in the pit compared to some other teams including Modave. Avia Racing was in third position and the fast German team was making up time while being virtually a lap or so down. In the closing hours of the race we still had to do our final stint on 100kg which was for me! This was one of our best karts and I could drive a very strong pace, reinforcing our position on track!! Meanwhile Tristan prepared for another stint, while Romano did a great job some time before by unlapping us just before the final safety kart situation. Here we won almost a lap on Modave and we were now more than a lap ahead of them. Romano started the final hour and I had the honour to finish off the race. The last 30 minutes were fantastic, with many spectators on the side of the track I was driving with a big smile on my face in the blue and white colours of Bluestar. The chequered flag dropped right in front of me and we won the 2016 edition of the 24 hours of Eupen, it was amazing!! Big thanks to my teammates and all the support from the Bluestar family during the race, we are already looking forward to the 2017 race.

161001 24h eupen podium