Ruben Boutens

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

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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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!

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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12 hours Hurricane Dolhain Karting

Bluestar dominates also 2016 edition
Dolhain, 5 November 2016

After winning this race last year, Bluestar lined-up again with Mathias, Yoan and me, accompanied by the upcoming star Tristan, to defend our race win from last year. Competing with 15 other teams, we start the hot lap qualifying on Saturday morning the 5th of November after having done 1 hour of free practice for all teams. Tristan managed to score pole position, with the smallest possible margin to the second place of Benjamin Kaivers, 0.001 second. As we were not allowed to change driver during each of the 16 kart changes today and there was no limit for a minimum amount of driver changes, we planned to do long stints today, every pitstop costs you like 12 seconds and that is a lot in these kind of race. Tristan did the first 3 hours, drove incredibly well and build up a lead of immediately 40 seconds over second place of BGTK, Traxxis Thx and Bluestar Junior.

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Yoan and Tristan are very familiar with this track and it was a challenge today for Mathias and me to match their pace and consistency. Mathias was the second in line to enter the track for us, and he was right up to speed. As we drove away from the rest of the field second by second, the tension for first place was not really present, but we stayed focussed on increasing our advantage because the race was still long. Like Tristan, Mathias did 4 stints as well, driving almost 3 hours in a row which was quite doable on this track! Bluestar Junior with Bastien, Logan, Giovanni and Rico were also driving strong, challenging, amongst other, Romano Franssen, Christophe Verhoeven and Stefan Verhofste for second place. The third driver for us was Yoan, and like in previous race in Dolhain he was extremely fast and even more consistent. Even though he faced some less good karts, our opponents could not close in and we were nog 1 lap and 40 seconds ahead. A comfortable margin when I could finally enter the kart after 8 and a half hour of driving.

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During my stint I could pull away even further, lapping both Rico and Stefan to extend the lead to over 2 laps. I could drive very consistent for 3 hours in a row and I was happy with my pace. The track was rather narrow and thereby not easy to overtake, but it is a perfect track for endurance races like this one. The kart differences in Dolhain are typically somewhat smaller than on most other Belgian tracks, which always nice even though we drove all karts today. As we had a nice margin over second place of Bluestar Junior and third place of Traxxis Thx, we had time to do another driver change so that Tristan could finish the race. Due to this extra stop we came one second short of a 2 lap advantage, but we were very very happy with the final result! Big thanks to my teammates and coach Gregory, we can add another great victory to our resume!

12 hours Hurricane Dolhain Karting

Ruben takes victory with Bluestar Racing Team
Dolhain, November 21st 2015

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On Saturday 21st of November 2015 the 12 hours of Hurricane Dolhain Karting was planned in Belgium, a track I never drove before. With a total of 14 drivers Bluestar Racing Team entered this race in 4 different teams. I first raced with the Belgium Bluestar team during the 2009 World Championship in Brazil where we won the Team World Championship. In the years after I regularly joined the team for some majors races, resulting in many fantastic memories like our Team World Title in Italy this year and a 24 hours win in Brussels earlier this year. Today I drove for Bluestar 1 alongside reigning world champ Mathias Grooten and Yoan Medart, also part of our winning team in Italy and local driver in Dolhain, a top line up. With 16 teams one hour free practice started, for me the perfect opportunity to got to know the track. After practice I was happy with my pace close to the fastest locals. Yoan did the hotlap qualifying and scored pole position! The race started at noon, minimum weight was 85kg and all teams had to make 16 kart changes so that every team would drive every single kart.

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The field included some very strong teams and many world championship participants. Some international teams from (amongst others) Germany and France brought some very strong drivers on track, like former vice world champion (2011) Maximilian Beer. We divided our 12 hours in 6 stints of approximately 2 hours. During the race we were often in the lead, but closely chased by the Outsiderds and the Bluestar Junior team which took the lead a couple of times. After 10 hours the top 3 was still within 10 seconds, which is amazing and also thanks to the small kart differences. The organisation was very good, kart changes went smoothly and blue flags were during the whole race when needed. We were quite nervous with only a few hours to go, because victory was far from sure yet, but we all drove very consistent stints and Mathias then had our best kart in the 11th hour. He pulled away from teams 2 and 3 and build up a lead of more than 30 seconds. Meanwhile he also grabbed fastest race lap.

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Driving for Bluestar is always a pleasure, the team is known for its real friendship and teamspirit between all the drivers. Furthermore driving alongside these teammates which drive at such a high level, makes you better as a driver as well, you will push to the limit every single lap! I drove the last 1 and a half hour to finish the race, and increased our advantage to a full lap while Bluestar Junior and Outsiders fought for 2nd place. After 12 hours we took a glorious victory, a very very nice first race for me at Dolhain and stepping on top of the podium felt really good. Thanks a lot to all my Bluestar mates for the awesome day, and also thanks to Kinepolis for the sponsoring. Congratulations to the number 2 and 3 finishers, some (young) very talented drivers certainly showed their skills today. A final compliment goes to the organizer and his team, I’m already looking forward to a next race here in Dolhain.

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