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German competitor wins Setra Grand Prix
- Thomas Köhler scored a total of 770 points
- Bus drivers from 28 countries took part in the 2009 Setra drivers' competition
- Maike Wiltfang clinched the ladies' cup for the third time in a row
Thomas Köhler from the Satra Eberhardt bus company based in Kesselsdorf, Saxony is the winner of the 8th Setra Grand Prix 2009, which took place at the Nürburgring from 6 to 8 April 2009. Frenchman Georges Trulla from the Keolis Armor bus company took 2nd place with 766 points. 3rd place went to Michael Klöpfer from Otto Römer Omnibusverkehr GmbH & Co. KG in Winnenden, who notched up a total of 764 points. Maike Wiltfang from Franz Buck Reisen in Weilheim/Teck won the ladies' competition for the third time in succession, her tally of 754 points assuring her of 8th place in the overall rankings.
Already a standard fixture in the competition calendar, the Grand Prix for drivers of Daimler's Setra brand attracted 120 participants this year. Werner Staib, Setra brand spokesperson, was delighted at the record number of participants, which highlighted the international flair of this event held in Germany's Eifel region. "We're very proud that this year's meeting attracted drivers from a total of 27 European countries, as well as the USA," he said.
The exacting practical exercises of the Setra Grand Prix once again required the competitors, who included eleven female drivers, to display perfect handling of modern coaches. The main focus in the "Manoeuvring course" with type S416 HDH vehicles belonging to the new TopClass 400 was on judging distances and demonstrating a fine touch at the wheel, while the "Safety training" involved dealing with critical situations such as avoiding obstacles on slippery surfaces. In the "Economic driving" discipline, all the competitors were required to combine the lowest possible fuel consumption with a high average speed at the helm of an S 415 GT-HD of the ComfortClass 400 on the Grand Prix track. The practical driving exercises were accompanied by information on the bus or coach as a "workplace" and a voluntary fitness check.
The ten best competitors received a trophy, with the overall winner also claiming the highly prized Grand Prix challenge cup. Each of the competitors, who were selected to take part by means of a lottery held in the run-up to the event, took a certificate home with them as a memento. At the award ceremony Holger Suffel, Daimler Buses Sales Managing Director, praised the sporting approach and high level of skill displayed by all the competitors. "The performance analyses show a very high standard among all the drivers.
Setra Grand Prix 2009: The ten best
1. Thomas Köhler, Satra Eberhardt, D
2. Georges Trulla, Keolis Armor, F
3. Michael Klöpfer, Otto Römer Omnibusverkehr GmbH & Co. KG, D
4. Ioan Pop, SC Livio Dario SRL, RO
5. Stefan Grieß, Reisebusunternehmen Becker; D
6. Peter Rohrer, Anselm Winterhalter, D
7. Arnis Drava, Cata AS, LV
8. Maike Wiltfang, Franz Buck, Reisen und Radeln (Weilheim/Teck, D)
9. Wilhelm Zweidinger, Reiseverkehr Zweidinger, D
10. Frank Schroën, Horn Tours, NL