BTS 2023, Careers & Training

Queensland team wins 2023 Apprentice Challenge title

Held during the Brisbane Truck Show last week, the 2023 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge went down to the wire, with a Queensland team walking away with the title.

Lachlan Tate (Brown & Hurley) and Brayden Conaghan (Penske Australia) were named the winning team, following a flawless fault-finding final.

This year saw a new format introduced for the National Apprentice Challenge, with six training providers from around Australia each selecting two apprentices to compete.

The competition was run over two intense days, with six heats leading to the finals, which took place on Friday, May 19 at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.

Competition coordinator, and former HVIA director Chris Musch, said the event’s sponsors had fully invested themselves in ensuring every competitor’s experience would be rewarding and memorable.

It was a busy few days in the lead-up to competition for all of the apprentices involved. They came into Brisbane on the Tuesday for a meet and greet dinner with each other and the sponsors, along with a briefing about the competition. Then on the Wednesday, the apprentices attended the HVIA Executive Club event on the eve of the Brisbane Truck Show.

“That was a great opportunity for them to meet industry leaders, many of whom also started in the workshop” said Musch.

“By the end of the night, I think it started to really sink in what a great pathway they were on.”

Then on the Thursday, things kicked off, with four heats held throughout the day.

Musch said all of the teams worked extremely well together to solve as many faults as possible within the available 45 minutes of each heat.

Straight off the ship, three Western Star 47X trucks were supplied by Penske Australia, along with their expert staff to program the faults into the trucks before each heat.

With the Western Star 47X being a brand new model truck that was launched at the Brisbane Truck Show, it meant none of the competitors had any previous experience working on the truck.

Penske staff also ensured the introduced faults were generic faults you would find on all brands of large trucks – and they were on hand to give a little guidance when required.

At the end of day one, scores were very close, separated by either one or two points, or time penalties.

The final two heats were held on Friday morning. “There were positive signs that the apprentices had learnt from Thursday’s competition and put together a plan to ensure they got into the final,” added Musch.

The top three teams made it through to the big showdown on the Friday afternoon.

“The final consisted of nine programmed faults, plus a tenth bonus fault, all of which the apprentices had to find within the 60-minute time limit,” Musch explained.

Lachlan and Brayden came out on top, by fixing all nine faults and the bonus fault in a time of 56 minutes.

“This is the first time for me that we have a team complete all tasks, and it was in a record time,” said Musch.

Determining second place required a countback to the heats, which came down to a 15-second time penalty.

That put Kyle Guy and Ryan Robinson (both from Followmont Transport) ahead of Nathan Kaker (Penske Australia) and Caleb Todd (Cummins South Pacific).

“The National Apprentice Challenge competition, and the apprentices competing, showcased a very bright future within our industry to the school students attending,” Musch said. “I would like to thank everyone involved in ensuring we had a successful competition.”

Teams & Results

First place:

  • Lachlan Tate (Brown & Hurley) and Brayden Conaghan (Penske Australia); representing TAFE Qld Skills Tech

Second place:

  • Kyle Guy and Ryan Robinson (both from Followmont Transport); representing Busy at Work QLD

Third place:

  • Nathan Kaker (Penske Australia) and Caleb Todd (Cummins South Pacific); representing Central Regional TAFE WA

Congratulations also to:

  • Ben Seyffer (Nowra Truck & Tractor Repairs) and Sara Attard (Transport for NSW); representing TAFE NSW
  • Paris Maw (CMV Truck & Bus) and Jackson Marriott (Peninsula Diesel Repairs); representing Kangan TAFE VIC
  • Blade Elzer (Major Motors Isuzu) and Jacob Zurolo (MTAWA); representing South Metro TAFE WA


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