Nothing less than the best

From left: Naveen Sook, FleetBoard South Africa aftersales manager; Fast ‘n Fresh drivers Pieter Adriaanse and Basil Bailey; and driver trainer Dennis Jolliffe.

It came down to 25 drivers from 13 countries. Who would take honours? GAVIN MYERS looks at Imperial Logistics’ Pieter Adriaanse and Basil Bailey’s quest for driving supremacy.

Pieter Adriaanse and Basil Bailey were already winners by the time we featured them last month. Whether the two men from Imperial Logistics dominated with a 1-2 finish, or came stone last in the 2011 Truckermania Drivers’ League finals, they represent the pinnacle of South Africa’s drivers. These guys rock!

To briefly recap: Adriaanse and Bailey were just two of the original worldwide field of 9 000 FleetBoard drivers – 740 from South Africa – that entered the global competition. Eventually, after four weeks of capturing data on the drivers’ individual styles and habits using Mercedes’ FleetBoard fleet management system, 25 of the best from 13 countries went through to the finals. Our top two were Adriaanse (first) and Bailey (second) – who, along with driver trainer Dennis Jolliffe, comprise team Fast ‘n Fresh. They are two of the best truck drivers on South Africa’s roads today, although these modest men would never admit it.

“The Germans were very strong and competitive, they had a country score of 9,9. Holland was just as strong,” notes Jolliffe. “South Africa did very well with an overall country score of 9,6.”

Following their proud send-off from Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles East Rand on August 31, team Fast ‘n Fresh descended on the Altes Lager site in Münsingen, Germany, for the finals. On September 3, the 25 drivers took part in various driving challenges, which holistically tested their driving skills.

These varied from a 30 km drive on public roads (including highways, country back-roads and roads through built-up areas) to test optimal fuel consumption and minimal wear and tear in everyday conditions; estimating speed with an obscured speedometer to assess the driver’s feel for their vehicles; as well as an off-road course with regular 20% gradients, twist humps and wading ponds in laden Actros tippers weighing 32 tonnes – again to test how well the drivers control their vehicle’s fuel consumption in challenging conditions.

The drivers concentrated on giving it their all, consistently scoring between 8,1 and 9,9 on the 10-point scale.

“The most challenging part for the drivers was the difficulty of driving on the right side of the road in a left-hand drive vehicle; but they adapted well,” says Jolliffe. Of course, nervousness was ever-present.

This year the drivers faced an additional new challenge: competing in the new Mercedes-Benz Actros (which features FleetBoard as standard). This proved quite a highlight for Adriaanse and Bailey, as they were the first two locals to drive it.

Mercedes-Benz also used the event to provide motivation for all 9 000 participants to reduce their CO2 emissions by an additional 1%. This roughly equates to a tonne of CO2 per year, per truck!

In the end, Adriaanse recorded a respectable 11th position – bettering his 16th placing last year. Bailey brought up the rear in 25th – still commendable for his first competition. The overall winner was German, Karsten Krüger, from DOEGO Fruchthandel, who successfully defended his title.

“We are thoroughly impressed with our delegates performances,” says Naveen Sook, FleetBoard South Africa aftersales manager. “Pieter is quite determined and now he has an even better understanding of FleetBoard. Hopefully we can come back with the trophy next time!”

Adriaanse and Bailey’s placings are still brilliant, considering they shone through from the initial batch of 9 000 competitors. That’s the reason they rock: these two drivers are a shining example for every one of their South African counterparts. If they could all drive with the same level of pride and professionalism, our industry would be all the better for it.

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