25 truck drivers from 13 countries competed for victory in the ultimate economical driving competition
Patrizia Kofler was the first female driver to compete in the final
Finalists demonstrated exceptional driving skill in the new Actros, among them drivers of right-hand vehicles from England and South Africa
Münsingen – Excitement was at fever pitch for the final of the 9th FleetBoard Drivers’ League on 3 September: 25 truck drivers from 13 different countries delivered an outstanding finish to the competition at the Altes Lager site in Münsingen. Their results in four challenging tasks decided who would reign supreme in the international Drivers’ League of 2011.
After some exciting action, Karsten Krüger of DOEGO Fruchthandel in Germany was able to defend his title as the ‘Winner of the Drivers’ League’. The winning company has used FleetBoard since 2006 and sees continuous improvement in the driving style of its drivers. Hot on his heels was Dawied Walczak of Smeets Beheer B.V. from the Netherlands, who took second place after a thrilling final round. Jürgen Breginski of DOEGO Fruchthandel from Germany narrowly managed to secure a well-deserved third place. For the first time in the history of the Drivers’ League, a female driver made it through to the final. Patrizia Kofler of Tanzer Handels- und Speditionsgesellschaft mbH from Austria was a good match for her fellow competitors and finished in 22nd place.
One of the challenges involved a 30km drive on public roads, which included highways, country lanes and roads in built-up areas. During this test, the competitors were judged on their economical driving style using FleetBoard Performance Analysis. Operating the truck in everyday conditions with optimal fuel consumption and minimal wear and tear was what counted here. The drivers skilfully demonstrated an efficient use of resources in handling their vehicles and achieved top scores between 8.1 and 9.9 (on a scale of 1 to 10).
Another exercise involved estimating speed with an obscured speedometer. Here, the finalists demonstrated their feel for their vehicle by driving a section of road as closely to 30km/h as possible.
The task on the off-road course in a laden Actros tipper with a weight of 32 tonnes provided plenty of entertaining driving. On those sections of the course with a 20 percent gradient, the weight of the tipper had a particularly noticeable effect and the full concentration of the drivers was required to keep fuel consumption to a minimum. Twist humps and wading ponds recreated off-road conditions perfectly and posed a real challenge for the drivers.
The drivers from Great Britain and South Africa, who were used to right-hand vehicles, also demonstrated their proficiency at the highest level. All of the finalists showed great competitive spirit and delivered exceptional performances. It was a close run race.
Those who made it through to the final had already qualified from an original field of 9,000 drivers in their home countries of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, South Africa and also in the Middle East. Drivers from France, Spain and the Middle East were taking part for the first time.
This year, to coincide with ‘FleetBoard inside’ – which sees FleetBoard as standard in the new Actros – the drivers faced a new challenge: they competed in the new Mercedes-Benz truck. If their companions held a truck driver’s licence, they too were able to have a go at driving the new Actros. For all the drivers, so-called ‘trucker maniacs’, it was an exciting weekend of thrilling driving experiences and a fantastic event to be part of. They also took the opportunity to talk shop about the best use of retarder brake systems, cruise control and environmentally-friendly driving, and enjoyed their time together as winners of the 2011 Drivers’ League.
The Drivers’ League also represented a triumph for the environment: the competition provided motivation for all 9,000 participants to reduce their CO2 emissions by an additional 1 percent, which roughly equates to a tonne of CO2 per year and per truck.
Karsten Krüger was overwhelmed at his victory: "It was a challenging competition with a lot of fun, excitement and action. I am very happy to be taking the trophy home with me again." As his prize, FleetBoard will be sending him and a companion to Madrid for a week. As well as enjoying the lively atmosphere of the Spanish capital, the two-time winner of the Drivers’ League will get to experience the European Championship Truck Race on 2 October 2011.
Markus Lipinsky, Managing Director of Daimler FleetBoard GmbH, shared in the excitement of the live final: "The finalists of the Drivers’ League are the best Mercedes-Benz truck drivers in the world. The driver is often the final link in the chain and as such they earn great respect for their day-to-day work on the road. FleetBoard enables them to clearly show how efficiently they drive, how well they anticipate traffic conditions and how they can minimize wear and tear on their vehicles. They form the basis for the company’s success and play an active part in protecting the environment. My thanks go to all 9,000 competitors."