The 2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge put Australia’s most fuel efficient drivers head-to-head, crowning a champion in both on and off-road categories.

Held on the 20th and 21st of July at Mount Cotton Training Centre, the competition was divided into two categories of driving: on-road with a prime mover and single trailer, and off-road with a rigid tipper. The winner of the on-road category was Tasmanian Kerri Connors of Caltas, while the off-road title was claimed by Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel in Victoria.

“Both drivers can be extremely proud of their achievement,” said Mitch Peden, Vice President of Volvo Trucks Australia, “not least because we think this competition was tougher than usual because of the way we selected the competitors.”

Over the two days, the competition was whittled down from 17 drivers in the semi-final, to nine drivers in the final.

Kerri Connors from Caltas

“Highlighting the huge impact every driver has on a company’s fuel consumption, out of the 9 drivers in the final, Kerri completed the challenging on-road course using 7.8% less fuel than least efficient driver in this year’s final, and keeping in mind these are the best of the best,” said Mitch. “In a real-world scenario, that equates to massive savings for operators.”

DynaFleet

This year Volvo Trucks identified the competitors using the powerful data of Dynafleet. Instead of running a series of heats around the country, Volvo Trucks compared the Dynafleet scores to identify the nation’s best performing drivers.

“All competitors had consistently demonstrated fuel-efficiency while driving fully-laden trucks on genuine commercial journeys,” said Mitch, “consistency like that over months is a lot harder to achieve than getting lucky on a single day.”

Analysing the data from Dynafleet made it clear that some drivers were using far less fuel than others to take the same load over the same journey. Speed, engine and gear use, anticipation and braking, and idle time are all contributing factors for fuel efficient driving, which was difficult on the challenging Mt Cotton circuits.

“Some may call it a coincidence, but both winners in this year’s competition have received training in the past by Volvo’s expert Product Trainers,” said Mitch, “which shows how much of an advantage operators can get with some driver training.”

“Fuel-efficient drivers are also safer drivers, because they’re paying that much more attention to what they’re doing out there on the road,” said Mitch. The sponsors of the Fuel Challenge, Caltex and Michelin, see the competition as an effective way to draw attention to the benefits of fuel-efficient driving, both to businesses and the environment, through the right combination of vehicle, driver, tyres and fuel.

“We’re very proud of the achievement of Kerri Connors and Cameron Simpson, and we’re looking forward to seeing them represent Australia in the final in Gothenburg, Sweden in September.