Ruben Boutens

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

Red Racing end of the year event

Ruben invited for Race of Champions and gala in Italy
Mantova, 16 December 2017

On Friday 15th of December I flew to Bologna for a very special event, I was invited by the Italian racing team of Red Racing, linked to Ferrari, to join their end-of-the-year event and to feature in various kartraces. On Friday evening I arrived in Mantova and got to know a couple of very nice people from both Red Racing and other international kart competitions. We enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner before heading to the track of Goparc just outside of Mantova. An amazing venue equipped with various electrical karts. We drove a short practice session and the karts were challenging to drive, very different from what I’m used to as the karts had a differential in the back, pretty special for indoorkarts. On Saturday the big event took place, starting with the main event which was a tournament with almost 50 drivers present, mainly Italian drivers. We started in the standard model electric kart with a practice and qualification session, and I managed to drive the first time in my group which allowed me to start from pole position in the last of 4 semi-finals. In each semi the first 2 drivers would qualify for the final and my main rival in this race was 2000 Formula A (outdoor) kart world champion Colin Brown from England. Even though he doesn’t drive much anymore nowadays, he was still fast and we had a nice battle for the win in this race, which in the end went to Colin. I was happy with my 2nd place as I made it into the top 8 to go to the final.

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We now used the faster electric karts and in the 5-minute grid formation I qualified 4th. My standing start (launched by the electric power) was very good but I had to release the throttle as the driver in front of me didn’t have a good start and blocked me, allowing Giorgio Pantano (former F1-driver) to pass me. In the remainder of the final I worked my way back into the top 3 and was able to close the gap again to Giorgio, but didn’t have the time to attack him, he finished second behind the winner, also from Italy, Orlando Sidoti. Given the limited practice I had, I was happy with the result. We continued the show with some amazing demonstrations in old 100cc karts and KZ shifter karts, everyone was fired up and a Race of Champions followed. In this Race of Champions, 8 racing champions including some of the kart sport greatest like Davide Forè (5-time outdoor kart world champion), raced against one of the drivers from Red Racing. It was a big honor for me to drive in this event. We drove with Sodi karts, but powered by a Rotax Max engine, so very spectacular on an indoor track. I won my first battle in style and then awaited my next round. As we were a bit behind on the timing schedule, the organization had to end the competition earlier than planned, as other drivers were waiting to driver their session already for quite some time. This was a pity but given the show element of this part of the event, it was not a big drama and all 5 remaining competitors still in for the win, received a nice trophy on the podium.

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The highlight of the evening however was still to come, with the combined dinner and gala taking place on the top level of the building. Italian like, a great show was given and one by one the champions were honored on the stage. I was asked to come forward as well, for an interview and video displaying pictures of my karting career. In between other (Italian) race heroes like Pantano, Forè and Brown I felt honored to be out there. I think the kart sport is nowhere as big as in Italy, the appreciation and respect I got from all attendees was amazing and hence this was a very special moment following my win in the indoor kart world championship earlier this year. A show you will not see quickly in for example the Netherlands. Next to the celebration of the champions, the drivers and team members of Red Racing were asked to come on the stage for some rewards, as well as Elena Pirrone, a double junior world champion cycling, who was present as a special guest with her time trial bike. All in all it was a very memorable evening and fantastic to be part of. On Sunday I flew back home to Holland with a couple of nice prices and a satisfactory feeling of having met great new people.