Temuka truck driver wins international truck challenge
Johnny Baxter knows being economical is a big winner.
Striving for fuel efficiency earned him the top prize in an international truck driving challenge.
The 27-year-old Temuka truck driver has returned home after winning the on-road category of the Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Challenge in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Baxter represented New Zealand in the competition, after winning the national heat at Fielding in June.
Eleven drivers from throughout the world took part in the challenge, with competitors judged on best fuel economy while driving around a race track in 12-and-a-half minutes.
Fuel efficiency is a daily practice for Baxter. He walks to work most days and is "not heavy footed" in his daily job as a truck driver.
Baxter, the youngest driver in the event, said he had been surprised to win the New Zealand leg of the competition, so winning the ultimate prize was an "amazing feeling".
"It was an awesome trip. It was fantastic," he said.
Baxter was entered into the New Zealand heat of the competition by his employer Temuka Transport. He said in the qualifying event, and the international competition, he had gone in with an open mind.
"I just didn't expect to win and the goal, in a way, was to get in the top three with Australia," he said.
"It was such a big surprise to win. I just thought I'd see how I go and try to pick up some good tips. It was a learning curve for me."
He said he had won the event by recording about 10 per cent less fuel consumption than the runner-up.
Being "tech-savvy" had also been an advantage, he said.
"There's so much technology in the trucks and being young and tech savvy I picked it up quicker than some."
His prize for the win was a trip to South Africa next year to see the Volvo Ocean Race stop over in Cape Town.
"I can't wait for that."
Baxter said he had been "straight back into work" when he arrived home.
Baxter, who grew up in Dunedin, moved to Temuka several years ago and began driving trucks as an 18 year old.
He wasn't surprised about the reports of a truck driver shortage in South Canterbury.
"It's not everyone's cup of tea.
"I'm guessing young people don't want to drive trucks as much as I wanted to when I was younger."
He said he enjoyed the travel in his job.
"I can go all over the country. It's not really a job for me - it's a lifestyle."
- The Timaru Herald