Steinbourg, 24 August – His first time driving a 230 horsepower buggy on dirt ticked another bucket list box for Rudy van Buren. However, competitive lap times and his heritage in Dutch autocross leaves Rudy thirsty for more, as a potential expansion to his racing activities in various Porsche championships.
Last weekend saw Rudy turning the wheel of European championship winning machinery on a slightly undercover occasion – marking a fun change of setting from racing the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the Porsche Sports Cup, while preparing for the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. This time, the Mandel Engineering designed buggy, weighing in at 520 kilograms and powered by a 230 horsepower Hayabusy engine, proved to be a great match for his underexposed affinity for racing on dirt.
“I grew up on Dutch autocross tracks, as my father raced there in the nineties”, explains Rudy. “Hence I always intended to give that a shot myself, but only when done properly and preferably on an international level. That opportunity arose through René Mandel, the 2014 FIA European Rallycross Champion, whom I met during the 2018 Race of Champions in Riyadh.”
Amazing dirt-y fun
This two-day test took place on the Circuit du Soleil in the French town of Steinbourg, close to Strasbourg. “It’s a cool track, especially as the weather was nice and the car René provided was nothing short of amazing. I racked up quite the mileage as his buggy didn’t miss a beat all weekend – while I had an absolute blast. This is surely the most fun you can have behind a wheel”, Rudy says with a big smile.
“Of course, it was a matter of finding my feet initially. It’s not just wearing another style of safety helmet and goggles, as the buggy controls in a very different way from what I’m used to. The huge wheel travel allows for great slides and speed over potholes, while reading the track is of the utmost importance to account for damp patches and loose gravel. The factors that come into play are rather different from the track temperatures we talk about in tarmac circuits.”
Rudy drove numerous five-lap runs, as this duration approximately equals an official competitive autocross heat: “At one point I could really push the car to its limits, so the pace was surprising yet genuine.” Though lap times very much depend on the current state of the dirt, he did manage to match the pace of a frequent European championship podium finisher who was out on track at the same time, showing great promise.
This occasion certainly left Rudy hungry for more autocross: “Considering the learning curve, driving the buggy went really well, so I’d love to revisit this seriously at some point in the future. Not this year though, as I’m very much focused on the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. But if it works out, I’d like to get a European championship event on my calendar next year, providing my Porsche activities allow for it. To anyone even remotely interested in the thrill of autocross, check out the footage in the galery with the sound volume cranked up!”