Ruben Boutens

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

KWC Nations Cup

Ruben & Mike with Dutch Value to 2nd place
Charlotte (USA), 21 July 2019

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The 2019 Indoor Kart World Championship was organized in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since the 2010 edition of the IKWC in Phoenix, Arizona, the championship first returned to the United States of America. A far trip overseas but what an adventure. The world championship would not be a world championship if it was only held in Europe, and hence I was very happy to travel to States again in the hunt for more glory. Together with my dad I spent one and a half week travelling through some amazing places in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvenia, West Virginia and Virginia. From the Smokey Mountains National Park to the music city of Nashville, to the Nascar on the Kentucky Speedway, major league baseball at the Cleveland Indians, everything you wish was in this trip. On Thursday 18 July we came back in Charlotte to try the track at Victory Lane Indoor Karting. It was not an easy track at all, more than 60 seconds in length and many difficult corners with changing grip levels, mostly slippery. After some 15 training sessions it was Saturday evening and I was ready for the Nations Cup. But I had one problem, I had no team, BlueStar was, apart from me, not present this year and my teammates from the last 2 years (Rico & Lorenzo) were also not here. Last minute I decided to team up with my young friend Mike Dijkgraaf and together we formed the Dutch Value as we are both Dutch Value members from the beginning.

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It was a brave idea, I would drive the majority of the 6 hour race, and the temperature was no less than 35 degrees with a very high humidity. That was a challenge, 16 teams lined up on Sunday morning for the 5-minute grid formation. It was very slippery on the track in the morning and the pole position was taken by Jerott King from the USA by a large margin. I was second, just in front of the German driver Dennis Höller and track owner Fred Ogrim. In the beginning of the race there were a lot of nice battles, I was able to take the lead right from the start, like last year, with a Le Mans start. After a few laps Jerott passed me and built up a lead. I fought with Fred, Dennis and Mats de Jong from Belgium who came from behind and was very fast as well. After one and a half hour most drivers went in the pit for their first of 5 obligatory pitstops, it was extremely warm and not easy to drive a long stint. I continued until I passed the halfway point after 3 hours and then did our first kart and driver change. Mike went in while I got on the scales, and that was scary. I lost 8 pounds which is equal to almost 4kg, a new record for me but not so positive. I took a 4kg margin so I was just good, but I had to drink a lot.

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Luckily Mike was fast as well so I had some time to recover and drink well. We had a little hick up as Mike left the pit too early as we had to look to the light at the other side of the pit instead of our side, because we drew the kart in the other pitlane. This resulted in a stop and go penalty of 20 seconds. Meanwhile Michael Schöttler had taken over from Dennis for the German team and was very very quick, he secured a half lap advantage while Selina Balneger for the Belgian Traxxis team replaced Mats and was chasing Mike. After almost one hour I took back over from Mike and tried to drive away from third and fourth place. Some Belgian, American, Brazilian, Colombian and British drivers were chasing us. I had a very good second stint of one and a half hour before I made another stop handing over to Mike again. I felt not very good anymore, but after some more drinks I went back in the kart for the last 20 minutes, we were far in front of third place now and only just over half a lap behind the German drivers. André Lohse and Tobias Laube were fast as well and I came a little bit closer, but not enough to challenge them anymore for first place, they prolonged their Nations Cup title from last year, an amazing performance from the German squad!

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But what a result for us, the only team on the grid with 2 drivers including the just 14-years old Mike, we were super super happy with this result and even achieved the same position as last year with Rico and Lorenzo. We have to say that the field last year was a bit stronger than this year, but strong teams behind us proved what a race we drove. In third place one lap down it was Guillermo van Pamelen, Mats and Selina who took the third place for Traxxis. The American teams just finished outside the podium after a great race. A great start from our championship and we collected the trophy with the Dutch flag in our hand, we were proud of this achievement and celebrated at the local Longhorn Steakhouse which was one of the best restaurants in town. In the restaurant I almost went down and I didn’t feel good at all, but after taking sufficient salt and drinks it was better again in the late evening. One more day of practice on Monday and the individual championship was around the corner!

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