Scania’s biennial Truck Driver Competitionvhas been run and won with 12 finalists battling it out at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway late last week where West Australian driver Glenn Kendall emerged victorious in his first tilt at the prestigious award.
The larger than life Kendall is an owner driver from Katanning in WA’s South West where he normally pilots a bonneted Kenworth T400, proving Scania’s ecumenical approach to the contest which is open to owners of all types of trucks not just the Swedish brand.
Glenn and his wife Amanda and their son Jack and daughter Lucinda, have been featured on The Discovery Channel’s “Outback Truckers”.
This year marked the fifth time the Australian version of Scania’s long-running global challenge to find the country’s best truck driver has been run here and Truck & Bus News was on hand to witness the final of both the truck and bus sections of the contest.
Taking the runner up position for the second time in succession was Cameron Henry from Bordertown Haulage in Victoria, who was a close section last time out in 2014, while one of Glenn’s close friends, Scott Savory from SavTrans also in WA took third place.
All finalists had to undertake 10 manoeuvring activities behind the wheel of a Scania G 480 prime mover pulling a Freighter curtainsider, including a dog-leg reversing test in a G 480 B-double, and a drive of Melbourne’s traffic-infested roads in a G 480 pulling a Schmitz Cargo bull pantech.
In the classroom, each of the finalists had to answer 30 road rule questions as well as undertake a simulated media interview to gauge their views on the transport industry and how to improve the lot of transport drivers.
“Scania put 12 talented finalists through a tough series of tests on the road and behind a desk in order to determine who would win the coveted Champion status,” said Ron Szulc, Brand & Communication manager for Scania Australia.
“This unique competition puts the 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,” Ron said.
“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. We congratulate not only the winners but all the finalists for their efforts today and everyday.”
Glenn ‘Yogi’ Kendall said he was excited and overjoyed to have emerged at the head of the field.
“It’s amazing, unbelievable,” he said. “I felt I got one of the first tests wrong, so I had to stop and take stock and then focus on every element of the manoeuvring. I had to give everything 110%.
“The switch to a state-of-the art (cab-over) Scania was one of the biggest things to get to grips with during the tests,” he said.
The smiling WA truckie says he will cart anything on his truck adding if he can get it on the back of the truck, he will cart it, from a $600,000 combine harvester to a vintage bike frame.”
He says he 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 & Co.
“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) and then be able to attract better level of driver to the industry,” he said.
“This event is good to meet other like-minded passionate people who want to push themselves forward in this industry. You have got to be in to win it,” Glenn said.