Lars Søndergård’s daily routine provided him with the perfect training ground for the Scania Young European Truck Driver Competition. His focus on continually improving his skills while at work helped him to recently become Danish national champion.
As a truck driver delivering loads into the heart of Danish cities, Lars Søndergård gets plenty of practice with handling tricky situations.
Challenging road conditions
The 32-year-old runs his own transport business, Aale Vognmandsforretning, and on tough days, his driving duties require him to contend with city traffic, time pressure and slippery winter roads.
“I do distribution work with my Scania G 400 4×2 tractor with a city-trailer,” says Søndergård. “I pick up the trailer at the DHL terminal in Taulov and offload and load it during the day, before returning to the terminal. I go to all kind of customers in cities and industrial areas and drive on all types of roads in all kind of weather.”
The skills Søndergård uses during this work – and his willingness to improve on them – proved crucial to his recent win at the Danish national finals of the Young European Truck Driver competition.
Søndergård had competed in the 2012 YETD competition, where he finished second. Determined to do better at the next competition, he set about improving his skills.
“The main reason I won this year was my experience from the 2012 competition,” Søndergård says. “This showed me where my weak points were and I have focused on improving my skills in those areas. I really went for the victory this time. To take first place is the most satisfying feeling, because it shows that it pays to set yourself a goal and focus on reaching it.”
Søndergård, who lives with his partner Mia and their three-year-old daughter in the city of Tørring, Denmark, says many skills from his working life translated perfectly into competition events. “I do a lot of load securing in my daily job, and I’m a trained mechanic, so I have an advantage in the technical area.”
His biggest challenge came in the form of manoeuvring. “That wasn’t my strongest area in 2012,” he says, “but by keeping calm and focused I surprised even myself with a very good performance this year. I came second – beaten by only 12 seconds by the winner in this discipline.”
Søndergård has now returned to running his business, where in addition to the Scania G 400, he operates a Scania R 480 6×2/4 tractor with 3-axle tipper semitrailer for the transport of animal feed.
However, he is also looking ambitiously ahead to the YETD European final in Sweden in April 2015. He plans to prepare with a combination of on-the-job training and professional help from Scania.
“I’ll use my daily work as practice with focus on the different exercises,” he says. “And I’ll improve my skills in fuel efficient driving by going to Scania Driver Academy, which will also improve my operating economy in my business.”
Søndergård says he believes staying calm and focused will be crucial if he is to win. “I need to be as relaxed as possible and enjoy the competition despite the pressure,” he says. “When you have fun, you perform better. Manoeuvring looks to be the most important part of the competition, so I’ll try to gain as much experience in driving the 4×2 tractor/13.6 meter semitrailer during the next seven to eight months.”