Chinese surprise at Newcastle

By: Greg Bush, Photography by: Greg Bush

A Chinese-built Sitrak prime mover made an intriguing appearance during the recent Newcastle to Maitland convoy

Glen ‘Yogi’ Kendall drove the Chinese Sitrak up from Melbourne

Owner-driver Glen ‘Yogi’ Kendall is well known in road transport circles, due to his support of trucking events and his appearances on the TV show Outback Truckers.

However, when Yogi arrived at Sandgate Fruit Markets for the Newcastle Hunter Transport Awareness Day convoy, his Kenworth was nowhere to be seen. Instead, he was behind the wheel of a 540hp Sitrak prime mover, manufactured by the China National Heavy Duty Truck Group, or Sinotruk.

The Sitrak was brought into Australia in September by Wei Liu, general manager of tyre wholesaler Spider GT.

"There’s only two of them in Australia at this point in time, and he wanted some genuine industry feedback on what’s good, bad and ugly about the truck," Yogi explains. "And I’m not backwards in coming forwards."

The 540hp Sitrak created much interest with its appearance at Maitland Showgrounds

So Yogi flew across from Perth to Melbourne, picked up the truck and drove it up to Newcastle for test run.

"I’ve put a couple of thousand ks on the clock. When I picked it up it had 114 ks on the clock," he laughs.

"It is a complete and utter change from the ’95 Kenworth I’ve got."

What immediately impressed Yogi was the spacious cab.

"There’s two bunks in there, a phenomenal amount of room. That’s what I actually did like about it.

"The vision is unbelievable, but again I’ve come out of a little Ned Kelly window to a big cab-over.

"The mirrors are fantastic, but they make a big blind spot ’cause they’re so close."

Yogi says, although the Sitrak drove well, it was difficult to evaluate it driving bobtail.

"I did feel a little bit seasick, so it would be nice to put a trailer behind it, put a bit of weight on it and just see what it actually will do."

Yogi says the Sitrak boasts MAN technology, and complies with Australian regulations. He adds that Sinotruk has been making trucks since 1935 and is the third largest truck manufacturer in China.

However, entering the already competitive Australian truck market is a challenge.

"He’s a good bloke to deal with," Yogi says of the Spider GT boss. "The biggest thing he’ll come up against, and we’ve already spoken about it, is how are you going to back it up?

"At the moment he’s running Longmarch Tyres and Tianli Ag Tyres around Australia, so he’s got his dealer infrastructure, like parts and all that are not a problem.

"So it’s all there. Everything’s laid out in front him."

Yogi predicts the Sitrak will be around $200,000 on the road, with possibly a three-year, 600,000km warranty.

The Sitrak, built by the China National Heavy Duty Truck Group, is one of only two currently in Australia

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