Ruben Boutens

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

Spanish KWC Qualifier

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

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

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

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

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Spanish National KWC Qualifier

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

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

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

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

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

Spanish National Qualifier Series

Ruben back to Karting Rivas for Spanish NQS
Madrid, 25 March 2018

Like every year, I always try to engage in new races, against new competitors and on different tracks. First of all because it is fun to travel to new places, but also because it makes you a better driver. This year I chose to take part in the Spanish National Qualifier Series (NQS), organized by Jose Burillo and Ana Pozuelo in cooperation with the beautiful track of Karting Rivas in Madrid. NQS are international championships where you can qualify for the Kart World Championship and they are often well organized and have a high level of drivers. Together with my friend Rico Haarbosch I travelled to Spain on Saturday morning the 24th of March, departing from Brussels. In Madrid my father and grandfather were waiting for us. As my grandfather is 93 years old, it was very special to make this trip with him and show him the place where I became world champion for the first time only last year. The weather was quite nice although a lot colder than we were used to during the KWC last year, but for the time of the year not bad at all. On Saturday we did 8 training sessions (4 in each direction) and it was great to be back here. We were warmly welcomed by many drivers and the track staff. It was amazing how many people asked to make a photo together with us during the weekend, a great pleasure and honor at the same time.

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The track was slightly different compared to the track we drove at the KWC last year, we drove the normal Sodi karts this time and it was a lot of fun. There were approximately 70 drivers which were all Spanish except from the two of us. The event setup was different than usual, as all heats were based on timing only and no racing element was involved. Maybe this sounds a bit boring and although I missed the tactical element, it is a very fair way of comparing your skills with your rivals. After practice we enjoyed a Spanish dinner and on Sunday morning we were excited to start the competition. We first drove 4 heats while changing karts with 3 other drivers, the fastest time per heat counted. Then the 2 fastest of each group plus the best 3rd places went through to the knock-stage of the tournament with 40 drivers. I won my group fairly easy and now faced a driver who was second in one of the other groups. We now just drove 1 lap, changed kart and then another lap to see who advances to the next round. I could win my first two rounds and then had to race against Christian Perez, one of the fastest Spanish drivers also featuring in last year’s KWC. This time the difference was only half a second, luckily to my advantage and I moved onto the final round with the last 5 drivers.

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This final included 5 laps in 5 different karts, and it was between Busian Fontan, Jon del Valle, Fernando Lara, Rico and myself. We drove in the reverse direction and unfortunately I had to start first on a slightly dirty track as the karts were standing still for about 20 minutes. This lap was not my fastest and that was a shame, because I knew the differences would be very small and it could cost me dearly. In my remaining 4 karts I did 3 great laps and made 1 small mistake, maybe one of the few during the entire day but not a good moment. Then we jumped out of the kart running to the scoreboard which would tell us the final result. Quickly I discovered I was not the winner which was disappointing, but with a top 3 so close (between 0.25 of a second adding up all 5 times), it was still a very nice podium with Rico coming out on top this time. Splitting us, it was Spanish talent Jon del Valle who surprised me again, a very strong performance from him and a well-deserved second place! All in all it was a great weekend which we enjoyed a lot, and as I finished 3rd I could take home my 15th trophy in 16 participations in 16 KWC National Qualifier Series, something I’m really proud of as no other driver comes close to this. I hope to score my 10 NQS victory later this year! I would like to thank all Spanish people for having us in Madrid, and hope to see everyone again later this year during the KWC in Poland.

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Kart World Championship

Ruben crowned indoor kart world champion after magic tournament
Kart World Championship July 2017, Madrid, Spain

July is the month of the (Indoor) Kart World Championship already for years, and so was it as well in 2017. On the track of Karting Rivas in Madrid new karts were prepared for some spectacular weeks of kart racing. 172 drivers from 22 countries were present for the 13th edition of KWC and for me it was already the 10th time I was present, 10 in a row as I never missed a year since my debut in 2008. Already in May I went to Spain to prepare together with the reigning world champion Rico Haarbosch, to get to know the track and the karts. On July 18th I arrived again by plane, now alongside my dad and girlfriend Edyta who was going to take part for the first time this year. We didn’t give ourselves much time to adapt to the circumstances as we headed to the track already that same evening for a couple of practice heats. A lot of trainings followed in the days after and we drove the reversed track as well. It was nice to meet many friends from all over the world during the practice week again, some guys who were driving in the early editions of KWC like Andres Prieto, Fabio Konrad, Ronald Jones, Diego Morales, Otacilio Oliviera and Francisco Jansley to mention just a few. Around the practice heats we spent some time in and around the city of Madrid to taste some Spanish culture including the food and drinks the country has to offer. With 35-40 degrees every days the holiday feeling was certainly there.

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On Sunday the Nations Cup was on the planning which I entered with The Dutch Value together with Lorenzo Stolk and Rico to defend our title from last year. 40 teams battled for one of the 22 positions in the final race. There were 2 qualifier races of 2 hours, and we were to drive in the first one with many strong teams. Our race went pretty well, we never had to take any risks because a top 11 classification would be sufficient to qualify. After having started 5th Rico took the lead in the race already in the first stint and Lorenzo built up some advantage over 2nd place in the second stint. I then raced the fastest lap time in the third stint and Rico could finish off in the last stint without being in any danger. During the afternoon we had time to eat something together and relax a bit before the tension was on again in the evening. This time I qualified and managed to take pole position in front of Brazilian Fabio Konrad and Spanish Jon del Valle. The 3-hour race started really well as I could sneak away from the rest of the field and when Lorenzo went into the kart as 2nd driver we were leading by more than 16 seconds already. Lorenzo further extended our lead to 23 seconds when Rico was ready to take over as third driver in line. But then something unexpected happened. A spin of a Polish back marker caused a big crash in which Lorenzo was badly involved, he injured his knee and the kart was broken because of the impact. Lorenzo was taken to hospital for a medical check while we were not allowed to continue the race. As there were too few spare karts according to the race direction, no spare kart was given to a Belgian team who had a broken kart just before us, and so we did not get one as well. A huge disappointment, as we were clearly on our way to a second Nations Cup victory. A very sad way to end the almost perfect day so far and with Lorenzo having injured his knee this was a very bad outcome of what should have been a glorious day. Team Great-Britain (who were almost a lap down at 1 hour and 15 minutes to go when the incident happened) capitalised and won the race, Baccellieri, Spinnael and Brierley did a great job and were accompanied on the podium by Extreme team Poland and ClickSpeed Brazil.


After two more days of practice on Monday and Tuesday the Individual championship started on Wednesday, finally the real battle was about to begin and I could not wait to start. I was directly in the first race of the day and my confidence was high following a very successful training week. We started with new tires and on a relatively cold and dirty track, starting qualification from the front of the field appeared to be a big disadvantage. I qualified only in 5th position and had to battle my way to the front. I was on fire and quickly moved back into winning position when I passed Bartsch from Poland to take back the lead. I had a few seconds lead going into the pitstop and so I did not have to take any risk. With a win and fastest lap my championship started very well. In the afternoon we drove in the normal direction after having driven the reverse direction in the morning. This time I had a pretty good kart and could easily win the race in my favourite direction. As there were some crashes in the other races the organisation decided to drive all qualification races in the reverse direction. That was a pity, but I felt strong on this lay-out as well and could win also my third race on Thursday morning. My 4th race was in one of the hardest groups of all, including many strong drivers like Del Valle, Grooten, Stolk, Balneger, Burillo, Javanainen and Suarez. With a good qualification lap I was again in pole position and also in the race I was not giving away any presents. Mathias Grooten was all race long on my bumper and for the first time I had to take some risk with the pitstop. I just, but only just, met the required 20 seconds in the pit lane with a stop of 20.02 seconds, a bit too much on the limit but it gave me the space I needed to go for the fastest lap as well and I managed to take that point as well going into the last lap of the race.


With 4 out of 4 wins I went into day 5 as the championship leader, but both Rico and German Dennis Höller were very close as they were scoring multiple victories as well. On day 3 I raced to my 5th victory in a row with one of the less good karts, a very important one and it proved that the kart differences here were quite small and the driver could make a big difference. In race 6 I faced Rico for the first time and I was excited to battle against him. He had a slightly better kart than me and qualified in pole position in front of me. I was ready to fight though, and overtook Rico in the first corner after a perfect start. Because Rico didn’t give up his position, we both went wide a little bit and Belgian Kenny Verbinnen and Polish Bartsch moved up in front of us. I defended from time to time on Rico and could overtake Bartsch again. Because of my defensive driving the strong Brazilian driver Felipe Leite (vice world champion in 2014) could overtake us with an early pitstop. For me this was not a big problem as a third position in front of Rico would extend my points lead as I was the only one with only victories up until then, and so I could drop this race anyway. But as race 7 and 8 were still around the corner I could not take too much risk though. I ended day 3 with a 3-point lead in the championship over Rico. On Saturday I had a very smooth day, missing only 1 point for pole position and claiming 2 more victories, while my nearest rivals Rico and Dennis were dropping some points, Rico because of a penalty and Dennis because of some lower results with average karts.


Then the final day was there, with a 13-point advantage I was ready for the semi-final, knowing however that nothing was won yet. The memory of last year was still fresh but also in other previous years some drivers who were leading the championship all week long lost the championship on the last day. I was in the first semi and we were driving in normal direction again, we now started the battle qualifications and like last year, I won all of them comfortably and could choose a good kart to race with in the 30-lap race. The race went pretty straightforward as I could pull away from the rest of the field and also secure the fastest lap of the race in an early stage of the race. In this way I didn’t have to take any risk with my pitstop and scored maximum points. After my race I went back to the hotel to cool down and follow the other semis via de live timing. Rico was well on his way to do the same as me, taking maximum points home, but then he made a big mistake by screwing up his pitstop when he left the pits too early. A very costly mistake as he lost 5 positions following a 30-second penalty. Mats de Jong could profit and won the race. The other semi finales were won by Spanish Suarez and Belgian Mathias Grooten. Together with Rico, Mathias and Mats we had already a very big lead in the team championship going into the final. I was quite nervous and knew only a broken kart or some penalties could still ruin my championship. I was very focused and eliminated Opnithi Puyato, Fernande Lara and Dennis Höller in the battle qualification before facing Rico who just kicked out Mathias. I had 2 average laps and was only 1 time faster than Rico, but overall he was a bit faster and had the first kartpick for the final.


I was happy with my second starting position and let Rico go in the beginning of the race. Mathias was behind me but could not attack, followed by Höller and Giovanni Baccellieri. The race lasted 45 laps but it felt like an endurance race. I still had everything under control and with my 2 pitstops I didn’t take any risk, I waited until I saw 20 seconds on the screen and this cost me some positions in the race. I didn’t start a fight and dropped back to 5th place. No problem for me, I was just praying my kart would not brake down and wanted to avoid any contact with other drivers. For the last time ‘ultima vuelta’ was displayed and the tears were in my eyes, I was really emotional and remember all the things I had gone through in the past years of successes and disappointments, especially the 2nd place of last year. But this was my moment, here was the checkered flag and I screamed out loud. I realised I was the new indoor kart world champion and this was the moment I waited for for so long. After they checked my weight (I had a 3kg margin :P) I ran to my father and mother to celebrate with them, then with my girlfriend Edyta and all the other people who wished me well. I was so so happy and finally had the big honor to receive the largest trophy from Poul Horneman, the big man behind KWC and it felt so good. I would like to thank once more all the people who supported me during my career, especially my sponsors! And I want to congratulate the final top 5 with Rico on 2nd position and winning a second Junior title, Mathias in 3rd position and Dennis and Giovanni on 4 and 5 like last year. What a strong podium and what a trophy! Also congrats to the winners in the masters (Roman Schneider) and women (Selina Balneger) class, and with my BlueStar teammates we won the team championship, for me the 4th team title after 2009, 2015 and 2016. What an amazing week it was and the adventure comes to an end, my dream has come through and I will always remember this magnificent championship with great pleasure. I cannot wait to drive next year in a new edition of KWC with number 1.

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