European TV audiences know Glenn Kendall as one of the stars of the hit reality TV show Outback Truckers. And now the extroverted big-rig driver has found fame in another way – by being crowned Australia’s best truck driver in the 2016 Scania Driver Competitions.
Kendall, who viewers of Outback Truckers know by the nickname ‘Yogi’, edged out tough competition to take the national truck driving title in the final in Melbourne.
“It feels amazing,” he says. “Scania is working hard to portray a good image for the industry and they are actually putting their money on the line. I’m really excited to have been part of that.”
The road to the champion’s crown was a long one for 40-year-old Kendall, who with his family runs Kendall Trucking & Co from the town of Katanning in Western Australia’s outback. A driver for nearly 20 years, he had entered every Scania Driver Competition since the event was established in Australia in 2007 without progressing to the final.
This year was different. “I made it through to the final 12, and I think maybe that’s because I have honed my skills by working as an owner-driver over the past four years,” he says.
No special training
To take part in the finals, Kendall flew over 3,300 kilometres from the west coast of Australia to the east. Incredibly, he did no special training for the event, even though he normally drives a 1990s American bonneted truck – a completely different vehicle to the sleek Scania G 480 used in the competition.
“When I got into the Scania, I was blown away by all the electronics and the ways that the truck will tell you what to do,” he says. “You can tell that Scania are the leaders with this kind of technology, and on the road it was absolutely phenomenal.”
“I loved the challenges”
Kendall says he thought his chances of winning were over when he knocked over a cone just two minutes into his first event – the Slalom. But he kept his cool and recovered enough in the other events to take the winner’s trophy. “I loved the challenges,” he says. “I loved the manoeuvring challenges, I loved the B double reversing, I loved working through the theory, the on-road drive.”
Apart from winning, Kendall says one of the best things about the competition was having the chance to meet and talk with other professional drivers. “Where I operate its fairly remote and rural, so you don’t tend to talk to a lot of people during the day,” he says. “So, it was excellent to meet the other competitors who are like-minded people and are pushing for the industry to be better.”
“Glenn’s achievement in winning the 2016 Scania Driver Competition should not be underestimated,” says Ron Szulc, Brand and Communications Manager for Scania Australia. “Not only did he beat a very talented field, but he adapted quickly to a cab-over truck from his traditional bonneted truck. To do this, and complete the manoeuvring tests with such style underscores his talent behind the wheel. “We are very pleased to have Glenn as our champion this year.”
Kendall has recently shot another series of Outback Truckers which will soon be shown in Australia and in European countries including the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.