Scania puts Aussie drivers to the test
ON A coolish Thursday 11 brave but nervous men and one brave and possibly even more nervous woman gathered at Sandown Raceway, having been chosen as finalists for the 2016 Scania Truck Driver Competition. A biannual event, this was the fifth outing for the Australian version of Scania’s long-running global challenge to find the country’s best truck driver. “Scania puts 12 talented finalists through a tough series of tests on the road and behind a desk in order to determine who will win the coveted champion status,” Scania Australia brand and communication manager Ron Szulc said.
“This unique competition puts a spotlight on safe, skilful and efficient driving, underscoring the high levels of professionalism among today’s drivers. “Day-to-day, Australia’s truck drivers are largely unappreciated for the hard work they do against tough deadlines and often in uncomfortable conditions. “By putting these finalists to the test we expose their high levels of ability, but also importantly give them a chance to meet with other like-minded, passionate and committed drivers who can impact the industry with their professionalism, courtesy and leadership.
“As a company we put a lot of effort into supporting drivers and enhancing their standing within their communities locally and globally via the Scania driver competitions.” Using Scania G480 prime movers hooked up to a Freighter Curtainsider, the finalists were challenged to undertake 10 manoeuvring activities which included dogleg backing, running prime mover and trailer wheels over a raised 8 inch plank – both forwards and in reverse and many other obstacles in a space that the average car driver would have trouble fitting into. As well, there was dogleg reversing with a B double and a drive of Melbourne’s traffic infested roads pulling a Schmitz Cargobull Pantech.
In addition to the on the road skills the finalists had to answer 30 road raw questions as well as undertake a simulated media interview to gauge your views on the transport industry and how to improve the lot of transport drivers. First ‘cab off the rank’ was a character known to many of us in the form of Glenn Yogi Kendall. Speaking to Yogi following his manoeuvring exercises he had two main concerns.
The first was that he wasn’t happy with one of his manoeuvres. The second was that he felt a bit like he was in X Factor. “There is only one chair available for the winner and me being first I’m in it at the moment, but there are 11 others who want to kick me right out of it,” he said.
As the day progressed, the contestants returned from their driving challenges with varying degrees of confidence. No one was 100% happy with their performance. In the final analysis they all scored relatively closely.
As it turned out that single chair available only to the winner, went to the first person who tried it on for size, one Glenn Yogi Kendall. He was closely followed by Cameron Henry from Bordertown Haulage in Victoria, whilst one of Glenn’s close friends, Scott Savory from SavTrans in Western Australia filled out the top three. Glenn was chuffed to take out top spot. “It’s amazing, unbelievable,” he said. “I felt I got one of the first tests wrong, so had to stop and take stock and then focus on every element of the manoeuvring.
“I had to give everything 110%. This event is good to meet other like-minded passionate people want to push themselves forward in this industry.” Driving a bonneted American truck on a daily basis, Glenn had to come to grips with the cab over.
“I wasn’t alone there. There were only a couple of us who were familiar with the Scanias. I was pretty impressed.
It’s a bloody good truck.” Glenn has a burning passion for setting to right some of the issues he has seen in 20 years driving and four years as the owner of his own business, Kendall Trucking based at Katanning in south west Western Australi. “The general public’s perception of trucking is they see lumps of metal going down the road.
They don’t see that the someone behind that lump of metal is a real-life person that deals with real-life situations and has a life outside of trucks. We need more education and a massive revamp in the transport industry to bring a better level of understanding of what we do. “Then we’ll be able to attract a better level of driver to the industry.”
Whilst there can only be one winner of an event such as this, there was certainly no losers.
These were 12 of the best drivers in the country and making it to the final was a huge achievement in itself.
Congratulations to all the contestants and to Scania for putting on the event and standing with all Australian truck drivers.