Ruben Boutens

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

formula fast indoor karting

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

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 !

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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

brkc 2017 by edyta

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.

brkc2017 ruben met fans

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

brkc 2017 happy

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.

brkc 1 ruben focus

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.

brkc 2 ruben boven

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.

brkc 3 inhaal

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.

brkc james ruben

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.

brkc ruben bradley

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

brkc 5 podium

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