Most truck drivers like to think they have a high skill level, it’s a matter of professional pride and the result of years of experience out on the highway. In the normal course of events, these precise skills go completely unrecognised and, often, unrewarded. The Scania Driver Competition is an opportunity for those who reckon their skills are at a high level to pit them against the best.
This driver event has become a biennial institution around the world for Scania. Starting in Europe and then making it to Australia in 2007, when it was called the Young Australian Truck Driver of the Year. It has evolved to be an event, open to all, where truck drivers show us what they can do.
Twelve hopeful souls, from a variety of backgrounds and industry segments, took the wheel on the test courses and did their best to excel. The winner was Western Australia’s Glenn ‘Yogi’ Kendall who emerged victorious and was awarded the title, Scania Truck Driver Champion. Glenn is an extrovert owner-driver, trading as Kendall Trucking & Co, who has also made a couple of appearances on the Outback Truckers TV show.
“It’s amazing, unbelievable,” said Glenn, after the event. “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 per cent.
“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. 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 is based out of Katanning in WA and hauls a float pulled by a 1995 Kenworth T900, handling most tasks, but specialising in hauling machinery. He has entered the competition every time it has run, but this is the first time he has made it to the final.
“I’ll cart anything,” says Glenn. “If I can get it on the back of my truck, I will cart it. From a $600,000 combine harvester to a vintage bike frame.
“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.”
Runner-up spot was taken by Cameron Henry, for the second time, he was also placed second last time the completion took place. He drives for Bordertown Haulage, hauling fertiliser, and hails from Terang in Victoria. His daily drive is an MAN B-double, so adapting to the Scania truck should not have been an issue for him. Cameron is equally passionate about improving the image of the truck driver in Australia after eight years in trucks and working in transport since he was 18.
Third place went to another West Australian, Scott Savory, and another Kenworth driver. Based in Perth, Scott owns four trucks, running overnight B-doubles and some oversize work. He is a third generation truck driver with a strong love of trucks and a commitment to professionalism and training.
Other drivers involved come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Queensland was well represented among the cohort who came through an online exam, followed by a phone interview for those shortlisted, to make it to the big day out on the track.
The four Queenslanders in the final, Glenn Gimm, Glenn McKenna, Scott Walton and Richard Watson represent a cross section of the industry. They work hauling liquid feed in tankers, delivering chilled and frozen goods around the state, handling fuel distribution and delivering packaged lubricants.
The waste industry had a representative, Blake Stokes from Geelong, who had limited experience in a semi, but handled the tasks well, including the B-double reversing exercise. Karlie Shire was the only female entrant, another West Australian, who has been driving for four years and currently drives a Scania B-double on overnight lineal.
The two representatives from New South Wales, Michael Cook and Joey Saliba, both work in general freight for Redstar and Temex. Michael has an ambition to drive for iconic UK haulier, Eddie Stobart. South Australias sole representative, Matthew Keating, works for Peats Soils and Garden Supplies and is another Scania driver.