Tense fin­ish in Christchurch driv­ing champs qual­i­fier

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Big Test -

AS IS OF­TEN THE CASE OVER THE HIS­TORY OF the New Zealand Truck Driv­ing Cham­pi­onships, win­ning isn’t just about hav­ing the per­fect drive around the course. The the­ory com­po­nent that tests com­peti­tors’ knowl­edge of heavy ve­hi­cle rules and the pre-trip in­spec­tion – re­quir­ing driv­ers to iden­tify faults with the ve­hi­cle – are crit­i­cal com­po­nents of the over­all event.

In fact, in the re­cent Christchurch qual­i­fy­ing round, it was suc­cess in th­ese el­e­ments of the con­test that proved de­ci­sive.

The prac­ti­cal course set up at the A&P Show­grounds was the re­verse of last year’s lay­out – ad­ding “that lit­tle bit of ex­tra dif­fi­culty,” as the or­gan­is­ers put it.

Four­teen min­utes was the max­i­mum time al­lowed to com­plete the course, with points de­ducted for miss­ing way­points, ob­sta­cle col­li­sions and ex­ceed­ing the time limit.

“There was a fair amount of nerves and ten­sion ap­par­ent among the driv­ers as they en­joyed break­fast off the grill and at­tended the de­brief be­fore they headed off to the the­ory room to pre­pare for the first part of the com­pe­ti­tion – a 60-ques­tion one-hour the­ory test,” the or­gan­is­ers re­port.

A wel­come turnout of RTANZ mem­ber com­pa­nies, fam­ily and friends to sup­port the driv­ers through­out the com­pe­ti­tion no doubt added to the nerves – in­creas­ing the in­ten­sity “just that lit­tle bit more.”

At the end of it, the points al­lo­cated by the judges – who’d done “a fine job of mea­sur­ing, tim­ing and ob­serv­ing driv­ers and scor­ing each one on the pre­ci­sion and ac­cu­racy of their drive” – were so close (as they were in 2016, as well) that re­sults had to be checked and rechecked to sep­a­rate the top few in each cat­e­gory.

“In many cases there was only a point or two be­tween the lead­ers, which is tes­ta­ment to the skill and com­pe­tence of the com­peti­tors.”

Fi­nally, the Class 5 Truck/Trailer sec­tion win­ner was de­ter­mined to be Chris Han­cox of HIAB and Trans­port So­lu­tions, while Dean Fraser of NZ Ex­press won the Trac­tor/Semi hon­ours and Craig Aitchi­son of Con­roy Re­movals won the Class 3 & 4 ti­tle.

Chris Han­cox of HIAB and Trans­port So­lu­tions won the Com­bi­na­tion Truck & Trailer class and is pre­sented with his win­ning cer­tifi­cate by RTANZ or­gan­iser Si­mon Car­son

Women driv­ers were to the fore, with Sa­man­tha Fraser re­peat­ing her Young Driver of the Year win in Christchurch last year and Philippa Van Gron­delle tak­ing out the Class 2 event.

In a cou­ple of an­cil­lary awards, Paul Ri­ley from Hilton Haulage won the hon­ours for the most points in a sin­gle cat­e­gory drive – with 533 out of a pos­si­ble 600 – while Dean Fraser scored the most points for a first-time com­peti­tor.

The class win­ners each earned an ex­penses-paid trip to the na­tional fi­nal on Novem­ber 10/11 at the RTF an­nual con­fer­ence in Hamil­ton – with the chance to take home some of the $10,000 prize pool and the $1500 prize for the Young Driver of the Year.

The Christchurch or­gan­is­ers paid tribute to the sup­port from RTF and RTANZ mem­bers, vol­un­teers and spon­sors for mak­ing the cham­pi­onships pos­si­ble – most par­tic­u­larly from ti­tle spon­sors TR Group/Mas­ter Drive Ser­vices, “who once again pro­vided the ve­hi­cles, prizes and a team of skilled judges for the event.

EROAD spon­sors the Young Driver cat­e­gory, while CablePrice spon­sored the award for the high­est-scor­ing first-time com­peti­tor. Ful­ton Ho­gan, Waste Man­age­ment and Coned Up Traf­fic Man­age­ment So­lu­tions pro­vided tools and equip­ment to set up the cour­ses.

The A&P Show­grounds pro­vided a great venue and ASB put on a much-ap­pre­ci­ated bar­be­cue.

The team of judges, or­gan­is­ers and loyal helpers, led by Si­mon Car­son and John Bond, also made the qual­i­fy­ing round pos­si­ble.


Pre­cise ve­hi­cle con­trol was a key skill in the prac­ti­cal as­sess­ment

The Rigid class 2 ti­tle was taken out by Philippa Van Gron­delle

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