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A total of 10 winners from 9 countries joined the ceremony virtually to be honoured and officially crowned Ultimate Drivers.
The UD Extra Mile Challenge started in 2015 and is a global driver competition. It simulates a day in the life of a truck driver and tests both pre-inspection and driving techniques - from fuel efficient and safe driving to parking skills. In a normal year, local markets hold qualification rounds, and the best driver selected in each market qualifies to take part in the Global Final held at the UD Experience Center in the headquarters in Japan.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Japan Global Final. Instead of holding such an event, all local market winners have been chosen as Ultimate Drivers - a worthy designation considering these drivers kept trucks moving in spite of the pandemic, continuing to deliver the goods and necessities that we all depend on.
While the pandemic has also fueled the growth of e-commerce, the logistics industry remains highly competitive, making efficient drivers an essential asset for trucking companies. The ability of the driver to maximise fuel efficiency not only contributes to the bottom line, but helps reduce emissions and environmental impacts. The Extra Mile Challenge is a way to promote and recognise the safest and most fuel efficient drivers on our roads today.
Addressing the winners from Ageo headquarters in Japan, UD Trucks President Takamitsu Sakamaki said, “It is a shame that you cannot be with us in person to celebrate this occasion, but we are delighted that you could join us for this virtual event. You are truly the unsung heroes, supporting society in the midst of the pandemic, carrying food and medical supplies to people in need. We congratulate and thank you for your outstanding contribution to logistics.”
The winners were selected among 500 drivers, who competed in qualifying rounds held across nine countries - Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines. Each winner was awarded an Ultimate Driver prize box, which included a custom-made cap, shirt and masks. Last but not least the box contained two virtual airline tickets to Japan, which will be converted to actual tickets once the pandemic subsides and normal international travel resumes.
On behalf of the winners, Efren Zamora from Philippines, thanked UD Trucks for its support, saying “Covid-19 added challenges to our daily work. In Philippines, we were required to submit additional documentation when entering different cities, which hampered our operations somewhat. However, this was also motivation to improve my driving skills to maximise fuel efficiency while keeping safety as the top priority. Being recognised as an Ultimate Driver is a huge honour for me and I hope to become an even better driver in the future."
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