Ruben Boutens

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

24 hours Dubai

BlueStar experiences unique trip in the Middle East
Dubai (UAE), 14-15 December 2018

In 2017 BlueStar won the endurance championship at Karting Eupen, for which we were awarded a free entry in the 24 hours of Dubai 2018. At that moment this still felt like far away. On 10 December 2018 I however stepped in the plane towards the United Arab Emirates. Together with my girlfriend and 6 other friends from our team we went to Dubai for a memorable week. We combined the race with a great week full of activities like a spectacular speedboat tour alongside the coast of Dubai, a Sahara trip including sandboarding, quad driving, camel riding, 4x4 Jeep touring through the dunes and a BBQ at sunset. We further enjoyed the impressive city of Dubai around the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world), the beach, some amazing restaurants and hotels in Dubai and a huge collection of supercars cruising through the city. With 28 degrees it was a great place to spend time during winter and on Wednesday evening we first went to the Dubai Kartdrome next to the large Dubai Autodrome.

After one hour of practice for our team (Yoan Medart, Mathias Grooten, Romano Franssen, Gregory Laporte and myself) we had a good impression of the track, but we didn’t feel like fast enough already to challenge the fastest drivers. Even though we had a great team, we dampened our expectations as our experience on the track was very limited compared to the teams participating in the Dubai endurance series. We had a pitbox with TV screen to follow the live standings and laptimes. The track itself was very big and had a cool lay-out. In the free practice on Friday morning, every driver had to drive a few laps and we tried to get a good kart for the first stint. Every time you entered the pitlane you had to change karts and we tried to change until we had a good one to start the race with. This didn’t really succeed, and in a chaotic 9-lap sprint race to determine the start order, Romano was positioned around P10. During the race we had to make 24 kart changes with a maximum stint time of 1.5 hour per driver. With always 3 karts in the pitlane and a draw to determine your next kart, it was far from easy to keep track of all the karts in the pits and decide the right moment to come in. In the first 8 hours of the race we lost already a lot of time on the frontrunners while we were struggling in the midfield.

This was a combination of not having the right pace yet, not having the luck of picking the karts we wanted during the pitstops and some tactical mistakes to drive to too long with an average or bad kart as we didn’t optimally keep track of where the good karts were. As the race progressed we improved our driving style and lines, and also improved out strategy and tactics. It was not always easy to judge how far we could go in terms of track limits, as sometimes teams received penalties whereas other teams were never even warned for crossing the white lines and curbstones. We moved up from a position between P15-20 to a top 10 spot. Apart from my first stint where I was too slow, I was very happy with my driving as I could win some place in my 2nd, 3rd and 4th stints. In the last hours of the race we were more often amongst the fastest teams on the track and that made the result a bit more bearable. In the end we finished far behind the winners, but I think if we would have to chance to do the race again, we would finish much higher. In the end we finished on position 8, not a very special result but the experience to race here with so many good teams on this track was definitely a very special one we will not quickly forget. All in all, the organization looked very professional and I would like to thank Karting Eupen for supporting us in our participation in the 24 hours of Dubai.