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A triumphant success!

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A triumphant success! Following a sabbatical in 2016, Truck Test was back with a bang during March 2017. GAVIN MYERS recounts all the action

It was quite possibly one of the most beautiful early morning sunrises I’ve ever seen ... Wide rays in pink and peach reaching up from the horizon on a backdrop of royal blue sky – it was something spectacular. I called on my best photographic skills to capture it “on film”, while we waited for the next truck to depart.

By now it was 06:00 on the button and the trucks had been departing the Engen Blockhouse northbound facility (the start and end point for Truck Test 2017) for 20 minutes already – following a quick briefing by Truck Test coordinator Adrian van Tonder in what had become a very crowded Engen 1-Stop/Wimpy.

A triumphant success! More than 50 individuals – including drivers and observers – collected their complimentary coffee and muffin, along with other sponsored goodie packs and Truck Test addenda, before the start.

The send-off went smoothly overall, with the support team from Michelin coming to the aid of participants and double-checking tyre pressures, before following the convoy along the route in its specially prepped support vehicle. The team had already undertaken comprehensive tyre checks the day before when the trucks arrived at the Engen facility to brim their tanks and park off for the night – ensuring all wheels and tyres on the trucks and trailers were in a safe, roadworthy condition.

The start

Truck Test 2017 had, in fact, essentially started the week before, when each vehicle rolled up at the Sephaku Cement Delmas facility to collect its payload of palleted cement, generously on loan from Sephaku.

On this day, the skilled Sephaku forklift drivers danced around the trucks (and each other), loading two trailers at a time with ease and precision, before the vehicles were sent across the weighbridge and on their way to secure their cargo.

From there, participants were able to perform some test runs with their vehicles over the ensuing week – Afrit trailers, loads and all – to ensure teams and drivers were confident on the day of the test...

Moody blues

truck test web3From the Engen Blockhouse, it was a short 5,5-km drive north on the R59 to the Heidelberg Road off-ramp before heading east for about 21 km through the Midvaal district to the on-ramp to the N3.

Narrow and dense with traffic and pedestrians beginning their Wednesday commute, this section proved an unexpected test for the drivers – something akin to manoeuvring such a rig through town at the beginning or end of its journey.

Then onto the N3 south and the first checkpoint was the Heidelberg South weighbridge, where each vehicle has to pass through the weigh-in-motion scanners before continuing.

The warm sunny sky we experienced earlier had been blocked out by thick mist by the time the drivers reached the sliver of Mpumalanga province through which the N3 runs. These were not ideal conditions.Drivers needed to be able to read the road and traffic ahead – while maintaining an average speed (it was, at least, indicative of one of the obstacles faced by drivers on this route, mind, and made for a couple of moody on-road photos).

The grey weather would linger as our convoy rolled in, one by one from about 07:00, to the first stop of the day; the Engen Villiers 1-Stop. Here the fuel sponsor had also organised a good old-fashioned Wimpy breakfast – just the thing to warm one up in the moody morning mist.

A triumphant success! Not that too many participants stuck around for a lazy bite, though ... most were back on the road in a blink to ensure they would make good time on the journey.

The life of a trucker

That’s what life on the road is about, though, and one of the reasons why one of the measurable criteria of each vehicle’s final result is trip time. Nonetheless, after passing through the De Hoek toll plaza earlier, and now the Wilge toll plaza – with toll fees very kindly sponsored by the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) – each vehicle would have some more “life on the road” moments to contend with.

Such as roadworks... The N3TC was in full swing with its road maintenance programme ahead of the Easter holidays, which saw various sections of the national route reduced to one lane in each direction. As with each of the previous Truck Tests, the rules state that, in such a circumstance, drivers are to obey all rules of the road and adhere to the temporary speed limits.

In doing so, each vehicle was affected as fairly as possible by these unavoidable obstacles en route. In all fairness, though, it’s regular maintenance, such as that experienced on the day, that results in the N3 being one of the best national roads in South Africa.

Before long, the route schedule called for a comfort stop at possibly one of the most well-known truck stops on this route: Highway Junction in Harrismith.

The turnaround point

The infamous Van Reenen’s Pass was the next obstacle, which was tackled with aplomb by most of the participants (there were some who came up against another obstacle that trolls this section of the route – other distressingly slow vehicles that barely have the power to comfortably and safely undertake the ascent).

A triumphant success! Before the return ascent, though, participants were required to pull into the barren parking lot of the otherwise somewhat-quaint Tugela Truck Inn. By now the time was rapidly approaching midday, and lunch was on everyone’s mind.

Kicking up a trail of heavy grey dust as it departed from Tugela Truck Inn, the final vehicle in the convoy hit the N3 north. Yet another stop at Highway Junction Harrismith was mandated – this time for some well-deserved and, frankly, utterly delicious, boerie rolls and chicken sosaties. Under the watchful eye of a giant inflatable Bibendum (that’s the Michelin Man, if you didn’t know), drivers and passengers tucked in to their lunch, sponsored by Engen and happily supplied by Ben Deysel and his team at Highway Junction.

Pushing tin

Re-energised and with drivers setting course for home, a quick stop at the Heidelberg North weighbridge was mandated. Here, Van Tonder, with the help of some of the friendliest traffic officials in the business, validated each vehicle’s payload. The final push back to Engen Blockhouse had begun.

Back at the same pumps of the northbound facility, Martin Dammann, his team from TruckScience and Vic Oliver set about refuelling and recording the raw data at the pumps.

The FOCUS team, meanwhile, completed its final set of interviews and photos under the fiery orange of the setting sun. Truck Test 2017 had come to an end, but it would be one to remember.

A triumphant success! FOCUS and the organisers of Truck Test 2017, TruckScience, Engen and Ctrack, would like to express their sincere thanks to all participants and the outstanding sponsors and support teams: Aero Truck, Afrit, BPW Axles, Cargo Carriers, DAF, Dromex, Elftrans, ESP Courier Services, Hyundai, Iveco, Knorr-Bremse, Loadtech, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, N3TC, One Sure, Quantum Concept, Scania, Sephaku Cement Dangote, Sinotruk, Sub-Saharan Tyre Services, Van Wettens, Voith, Wabco, Wieloc, and ZF.

NOTES AND ADJUSTMENTS TO THE RESULTS:

ALL VEHICLES:

• Speed violations of 86 km/h or more were taken from the Ctrack data at 30 seconds per violation.

• Speed violations at roadworks were taken from the observer notes, at a slightly reduced weighting of two transgressions being equal to one speed violation of 30 seconds.

• To eliminate the time to find suitable parking at the various stops, the travel times were measured from departure to arrival time, using the Ctrack Replay feature.

• The clock was stopped when the engine was shut down, and for any unnecessary delays at the weighbridges and stop and go on the R550.

• No major delays were recorded at the tolls, therefore no corrections have been made here.

 

A triumphant success! Mercedes-Benz Actros 2646LS-33 DD:

• A simulated time and fuel deduction of six minutes and 0,5 litres, respectively, was applied for missing the turn-off at Engen Highway Junction.

• Two speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall one-minute time penalty.

 

Scania G Series G460 CA6x4 MSZ:

• The fuel tank was overfilled by 27 mm at the end of the test, due to the slow release of air from the sight glass. A further 20 litres was then added to determine the fuel per millimetre, which was calculated at 0,833 litres per millimetre, and therefore 27 x 0,833 = 22,5 litres was deducted from the fuel fill-up.

• Ten speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall five-minute time penalty.

Iveco Stralis AS750S48TZP Hi-way:

• A simulated fuel deduction of 0,2 litres was applied for the loop inside the Heidelberg Northbound weighbridge. The time was not recorded.

• No speed violations were recorded.

 

A triumphant success! MAN TGS 26.480 6x4 BLS EL DD:

• One speed violation was recorded, resulting in an overall 30-second time penalty.

 

Scania R Series R500 LA6x4 MSZ:

• Ten speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall five-minute time penalty.

 

MAN TGX 26.540 6x4 BLS:

• Sixteen speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall eight-minute time penalty.

 

Iveco Trakker AT440T44TH SR:

• Four minutes were deducted for stopping to secure the load on the first leg of the day.

• Overtaking violation on Van Reenen’s Pass; no penalty applied.

• Six speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall three-minute time penalty.

 

A triumphant success! DAF XF 105.460 SR 1360:

• Overtaking violation on Van Reenen’s Pass; no penalty applied.

• No speed violations were recorded.

MAN TGS 26.440 6x4 BLS (LX) (Aero):

• A simulated time and fuel addition, of 1,5 minutes and 0,7 litres, respectively, was applied for missing the stop at Blockhouse Southbound on the return leg.

• No speed violations were recorded.

Sinotruk HOWO V7G 64430/4:

• Twelve speed violations were recorded, resulting in an overall six-minute time penalty.

• No sight glass was fitted as per the rules. The fuel consumption and productivity may not, therefore, be 100-percent accurate. This is also noted in the results.

Click here to download the Truck Test 2017 technical pecifications.
Click here to download the Truck Test 2017 results.

truck test 2017 sponsors

 

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