Wastell steers his way to Fuel Challenge win

By: Cobey Bartels


The past two days saw 21 of the nation’s most fuel-efficient truck drivers slog it out at Mt Cotton in QLD, where only one could be crowned Australia’s best. Cobey Bartels writes

 

Winner of the 2018 Volvo Trucks Drivers' Fuel Challenge, Steve Wastell of BLU Logistics

 

Take 21 of the most efficient drivers from around the country, put them on demanding on and off-road courses, and tell them to use as little fuel as possible. Sounds easy, right? Well, it certainly isn’t when you throw in a tight time limit and a healthy amount of competition.

It was their Dynafleet telematics efficiency scores that got them into the competition, and the drivers knew that the difference between winning and losing would be down to millilitres.

The gruelling two-day challenge kicked off with a practice run for each driver and having driven the course, Owner//Driver can confirm it was far more technical than it looked.

There are drivers, and then there are professional drivers, which was evident when watching how expertly all 21 competitors navigated the winding, undulating course.

Day one of the challenge whittled the 21 competitors down to the top 12, taking an average score across their two runs for the day.

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It was neck and neck watching from the sideline, there was really no way to tell who’d made it through to the final 12 until they were announced that evening.

By day two the competitors were in it to win it and tensions were high, particularly after the announcement of a trickier reversed-course layout.

One particular operator performed impeccably across the second day, delivering a Dynafleet score that put him on top as Australia’s most fuel-efficient truck driver and earned him a spot in the global competition in Sweden.

That operator was Steve Wastell, director of BLU Logistics, with just shy of three decades’ experience in the milk collection industry and a strong efficiency focus within his company.

"I feel ecstatic, it’s been an amazing couple of days and i’ve been driving with the best from around the country," he told Owner//Driver after being announced as winner.

The 21 competitors for the 2018 Volvo Trucks Drivers' Fuel Challenge

 

Steve explains he’s been driving less after becoming director of the company, but proved he’s still got it.

"I don’t drive as much as I used to, but I still take pride in it and here I am."

He says the event goes beyond just fuel efficiency, encouraging drivers to think about how they drive and endeavour to improve.

"It’s an awesome event and it really gets you thinking about your driving.

"It’s not only driving more efficiently but it’s driving smarter and changing the image of truck drivers on the roads, we’re not bozos."

Steve tells us he can’t wait to head to Sweden in September to represent Australia in the global competition and reckons the other competitors had better watch out!

"Us Australian’s, we do a good job, so i’m ready to kick some butt!"

Volvo Trucks Australia Vice-President Mitch Peden explains the competition underpins what Volvo stands for, but says its up to the drivers to get the most out of the trucks.

"Safety and efficiency are at the very heart of what drives Volvo trucks – we know from research that a fuel-efficient driver is a safe driver," Mitch said.

"This Challenge puts the drivers through their paces both on- and off-road to test their ability in gaining optimal fuel efficiency from a truck in differing conditions.

"Our trucks are designed with the best fuel efficiency features possible, however it’s ultimately up to the driver to achieve good performance."

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