Ruben Boutens

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

Swedish Rental Kart Championship 2020

Ruben beats everyone but ends up second
Kungalv (Se), 2 February 2020

In the first weekend of February 2020 it was time for the Swedish Rental Kart Championship, organised at the track of Gokartcentralen in Kungalv for the second year in a row, a track with electric karts close to the large city of Gothenburg. Last year I first participated in the championship and I really enjoyed it despite just not winning the title, so I decided to come back in 2020 to have another go. On Saturday 1 February the track was open for practice heats, which were necessary as the electric karts demand a slightly different driving technique and I always have to adapt to that. I felt confident after some heats and looked forward to race day on Sunday.

200202 srkc vertrek

The championship had a nice format, including 5 qualifying heats which were divided in 3 time trials of 9 laps where only the best laptime counted, and afterwards 2 12-lap races with a hotlap qualification and 2 longcuts. In my first heat I had some strong names like Nikolaj Marsengo who finished 3rd here last year as well as Arnaud Teuwen who recently won the Racehall of Champions in Arhus. The kart differences were quite small, however I had one of the slowest ones and had to push to set a good laptime. I ended up third, which was not a good start for me, but luckily this weekend included one drop result. In the second and third heat I faced some strong names as well, including the champion of last year Erkin Bour, a very strong Swedish home driver. In these two heats I could put down the fastest laptime and score important points.

After a small lunchbreak the races started, starting from standing position with the lights. The track changed completely compared to last year, which was very nice. Overtaking however was still very difficult, so the qualification was key today. The strategic element with the longcut resulted in a laptime which was like one second slower, so also with the longcut there was not much to play around with. In my fourth heat I could take pole position by good margin and win the race without problems finishing in front of the fast Belgian driver Mathieu Detry. In my last heat I have to say that I was very unlucky. One of the karts broke down before the start of the qualification, and the kart was changed. As the replacement kart was cold, I could understand that the kart should be warmed up, but unfortunately it was the driver himself (instead of someone from the track) that was allowed to go on track of 4 or 5 laps. Now he had a huge advantage and this cost me pole position by half a tenth. As it was a very good kart as well, I could not attack him anymore in the race and finished 2nd which cost me 2 very important points.

200202 srkc ontspanning

For the semi-finals the top 24 drivers were divided in three groups of 8 and the highest ranked driver was able to choose the kart first, while not being able to pick a kart you have driven before. This was an interesting rule which I didn’t see before, and it helped me a lot today as the five best karts were all still available for me. I was in 6th place after the heats which meant I was in the same group with the championship leader which was Dylan de Wolf from Belgium after winning all his five heats. In the qualification I took pole position by a small margin, and during the 16-lap race I could consolidate the lead and only had to defend after I made my two longcuts when Dylan still had to go through the longcut. A good victory which moved me up into fourth position behind Arnaud, Erkin and Dylan, tied in points with Erkin and Dylan and only 2 behind Arnaud. It was then time for the junior final which was a close battle between a number of talented drivers, resulting in a renewal of his championship for Danish Nikolaj Marsengo. Victor Sparholt, also from Denmark, and the Belgian Rayhan Mouoya ended up in second and third place.

200202 srkc hal

Before the final race of 20 laps a knock-out qualification was planned between the best eight drivers. I first had to battle against number five from Sweden, Kim Kettunen. I won the battle and advanced to round two against the highest ranked, Arnaud. I drove two decent laps and also won my second battle, while Dylan beat Erkin. In the final matchrace I won by more than 2 tenths margin and I picked the same kart I had in the semifinal. I was super happy with my qualification laps and ready for an exciting final. The first longcut of the top 4 drivers happened relatively quickly during the race, but didn’t change anything in positions. Erkin and Dylan then went for their second longcut and Arnaud was chasing me, but we drove similar laptimes. It was exciting because all four drivers could still win the championship, but I had the control over the lead in the race. After my second longcut I came out ahead of Dylan and was on the bumper of Arnaud. He then made his last longcut and was then fighting side by side with Erkin for third place. This gave myself and Dylan a gap of a couple of seconds. It seemed to be a battle for the championship between Dylan and me now with a couple of laps to go.

Then things turned differently as Dylan decided not to go for his own title chances but sacrificed his own position and slowed down a few seconds to let Arnaud by in the final lap of the race. Now Arnaud would be tied in points with me and win the title as this time the final was not decisive but the number of wins and so on. A very disappointing move as we race an individual championship which was now massively influenced by team tactics. I know unfortunately this kind of games happen more often and I am the first to admit that in 2013 in Denmark I also tried to help my former teammate Corne by defending on a driver who made the mistake to do an early pitstop. At that time, I immediately received a black flag as it was not allowed, and it created so much badwill from spectators that since that race I never sacrificed my own position in a race to help other drivers, let’s say everyone makes mistakes.

200202 srkc podium

All in all the championship ended on a low, not only for me becoming runner up (as the 3rd place in heat 1 lost it two the 2nd place of Arnaud in heat 2, with the other 6 results being equal) after winning the battles and the final, but also for the people involved as the shine of the title was completely gone. I still want to congratulate Arnaud and Dylan on their podium, they made the level of the championship increase this year and despite the final they both drove a strong championship. Looking back at my own championship I’m still very much satisfied with my performance, both in pure speed, qualification and race force I showed to be on top of my game and there was nothing more I could do. Hopefully next year things will enroll more fair play, I hope to be back again as I have to complement organiser Glenn Gyllin and the kart track for a great event.

200202 srkc resultaat

Swedish Rental Kart Championship

Ruben with electric karts in Sweden for the first time
Küngälv (Se), 27 January 2019

After having raced in the Belgian (1st), Spanish (2nd) and British (1st last week) national championships in the past months, I travelled to Gothenburg for another KWC qualifier event. I was planning on visiting Sweden already for a couple of years, but flights are typically expensive and this time I finally made it to Sweden for the first time in my life. I arrived at the brand-new track of Gokartcentralen in Küngälv, just 20 minutes North of Gothenburg, where a fleet of electric karts was waiting for us. I drove 3 practice heats on Saturday evening and I had to adapt to the karts as the acceleration and driving style was different compared to normal karts. The championship was organized by Glenn Gyllin who participated in several world championships himself in previous years. Some 60 drivers were presented, most of them coming from either Sweden or Denmark and a lot of strong names amongst them. The format was a special one with first 4 heats including 2 time trials and 2 races with a 2-lap qualification and 2 mandatory longcuts. The worst result was dropped before the top 24 drivers qualified for the semi-final.

190127 srkc 2019

I started my day with 2 victories in the heats while facing amongst others one of the top Swedish drivers of last year’s KWC, Erik Berggren. I could try some more different lines and seat positions, it was strange to not hear any engine sound when accelerating from the pitlane, but I have to say I was positively surprised by the small kart differences and driving of these karts. In my first race I could take pole position and do one of my longcuts while staying in the lead, when the race was stopped because of a kart breakdown. After some discussion it was decided not to restart the race and I won also my 3rd heat. In race 4 I had a difficult kart and I finished in 3rd place behind Danish Nikolaj Marsengo and Carsten Sparholt. I qualified for the semis in 3rd place, tied in points with the top 3, consisting of local star Erkin Bour, Nikolaj Marsengo and Ian Andersen. In the semis we could pick our karts in the order of the ranking, so I had the second kart pick after Ian. The race went really well, after I took pole position I could drive away slowly from the rest of the field and take my longcuts without losing the lead in the race.

190127 srkc 2019 podium

For the final 8 drivers were left and the classic and fair knock-out qualification system was applied to determine the kart allocation and starting order. I managed to win my first duals from Alex Engblom and Nikolaj Marsengo before facing Erkin Bour in the last battle. I noticed that our times were very close all day and ultimately, we were split by 0.01 of a second after 2 laps of the both of us, Erkin won the battle and had the first kart pick. The track was not easy to overtake so I knew I had a difficult race on my hands. In the first few laps a small incident where I was pushed wide cost me a couple of seconds. I tried to bridge the gap and came very close again to Erkin, but just as I was almost on his bumper, he found an extra gear and drove away from me again with small margins. I tried to force something with a double longcut, but I couldn’t reach his bumper again, so I had to settle for second place in the race, which also meant a second place in the championship. Erkin was the deserved winner and took home the 3000 SEK prize money and free KWC entry ticket. I was a bit disappointed just after the race, but happy to be on the podium again in another international race. The third place and junior title was for Nikolaj Marsengo, a great talent! Carsten Sparholt won the masters category and therefor also received a free entry to the 2019 Indoor Kart World Championship in the USA. All in all, it was a great experience and I hope to be back next year!