World Professional Driver Championships 2018
ECO Driver Competition
Team Ireland’s debut in the World Professional Driver Championships went better than expected. Up first, against three-time world champion in the ECO driving competition was Ireland’s Matt Kavanagh. This test consisted of a timed thirty-minute drive around a selection of city, urban and regional public roads in and around Ghent. There were five sets of traffic lights over the course of the route. Driving a fully loaded Mercedes Actros 1953 with a tri axle box trailer, drivers would gain or lose points on the amount of time it takes to compete the course. The fuel consumption score was taken from the on-board computer and combined with time a final score is calculated.
The winner Zenon Korsak from Poland, came in with a most impressive 28.3 points with second place going to Swiss driver Derungs Reto on 33 points. Third place went to Belgian driver Eric Booten on 33.5. Matt Kavanagh finished in joint fifth place on 35.7 having started second last, in heavier evening traffic, with Croatian driver Milienko Gocin going out before him and getting back on 41.8 and Italy going last after Matt with Giuseppe Finazzo getting back on 41.2. A great first timeout performance by Ireland.
Speaking to competitors after the event, they all said that traffic weighted heavily on their score. Moving off fully loaded from a set of traffic lights will cost dearly and if you do not read the traffic correctly your score can take a big hit. Having to do this on an unknown course is difficult having to do it in a left hand drive when you are used to right hand is another matter. Matt was very pleased with his result and is very keen to work achieve the level of performance of the winners.
Category C Semi-Trailer
Ireland’s team entry in the Semi-Trailer category were, Brendan Conlon, Matt Kavanagh and Pamela Dennison. The test course is off limits until the day of the competition. Free practice is held at a different location and is all about giving the drivers time to familiarise themselves with the competition vehicle. Team Ireland were up against some very strong competitors in the Swiss, Dutch, German and Polish who have been competing in this competition for over thirty years. As this was Irelands first time to enter the competition the team were on the back foot from the start. There is a difference in driving left hand drive when you are used to right hand drive, it’s an orientation thing, you automatically have right hand drive responses when reversing or when taking a wide swing, you can easily forget what side of the track you should be lined up on. The team performed very well on the day and finished in a very respectable seventh place ahead of Italy Croatia and Zimbabwe. Our three drivers finished Brendan in 20th Pamela in 21st and Matt in 23rd out of thirty drivers. For a first time out we are very pleased with the result.
Team Ireland’s next outing will be in June 2019 to compete in an invitation competition in Holland. This will work well for the team in preparation for the World Championships in 2020.