Temuka driver will take on the best

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Trucking on... Temuka truck driver Johnny Baxter will represent New Zealand at the Volvo Trucks Drivers' Fuel Challenge Competition in Sweden in September after winning the New Zealand competition at the weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Rachael Comer

Johnny Baxter is preparing to represent the country doing something he loves.
The 26-year-old Temuka truck driver will compete for New Zealand in the Volvo Trucks Drivers Fuel Challenge Competition in Sweden in September, after winning the national competition at Feilding at the weekend.
The fuel challenge is a global event where more than 13,000 professional drivers compete in their home countries to earn the right to compete on the world stage.
The event is run every two years and the win came as a “a real surprise” for Mr Baxter.
“I was put in the competition by my employers, Temuka Transport, and I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I went with no expectations and saw it more as a learning curve,” he said.
“I thought if I got to the finals then I’d done well. When I got to the top six [out of 16] I quietly started to get confident.”
As part of the competition, Mr Baxter had to drive a truck around a race track against the clock.
“I also had to stop and start the truck and do a certain distance to get up to speed.
“There were a few other tasks we had to do, like doing tight entries.”
Competitors were judged on best fuel economy.
“It was a tight competition,” Mr Baxter said.
He said it was straight back to reality on Monday, and he was at work by 5am.
“I will be doing a bit of practice in the lead-up to September.”
Mr Baxter grew up in Dunedin and moved to Temuka several years ago.
“I’ve been driving trucks since I was about 18 years old and love the lifestyle.
“It’s not really just a job – I see it as being paid to be a tourist, driving around the country.
“Temuka Transport is a great company to work for.”
Volvo Truck and Bus national sales manager Clive Jones said drivers from throughout the country were selected by the fleet owners based on their attitude, skills and fuel efficiency within their daily operations.
“Johnny’s performance in the competition was outstanding. Although the competition was fierce, his calm and professional manner held him in good stead from the start,” Mr Jones said.