The fifth edition of the Drive Me Challenge lived up to all expectations: it truly was a not-to-be-missed final. Not even the early showers in La Ferté Gaucher track could wash away the excitement, competitiveness, camaraderie and teamwork spirit lived in the French country side, on 6th October.
Honestly, I feel honoured for being part of this final, my first ever as a communications intern for Planet Me. I finally understood the power behind this initiative that celebrates drivers and their great contribution to TNT core business.
On the night before the challenge, fourteen competing teams arrived shyly to meet each other. It did not take long for them to embrace an atmosphere of familiarity and confidence where they could identify with each other. Even the language barriers were easily overcome by the helping hand of a new-found colleague turned into an eager translator. This night alone presaged a great event was about to unfold.
All participants had prepared themselves extremely well in their local pre-rounds. Next morning, they got the opportunity to test the 14 new and amazingly branded competing vehicles, provided by our French sponsor: Peugeot. After the familiarization tour of the track and the vehicles, the moment to enjoy and impress with their driving skills had arrived.
Each team completed 22 laps or 77 km. In every vehicle, a marshal evaluated each team’s performance on fuel efficiency, road safety and customer experience. They were even tested on fragile parcel delivery; and for satisfaction of all present, all the eggs placed on those parcels were delivered in one piece.
This year’s difference in fuel consumption between the most and the least fuel efficient driver was 16.5 %. This alone was an amazing accomplishment, since we have observed differences of up to 53% in past editions. This might be the result of combining strong awareness efforts, but also brand new vehicles in excellent condition, just like clean sheets.
As the activity reached its end, drivers and co-drivers waited anxiously for the winners to be revealed. Third place was occupied by a rally driver, Michal Swiader, representing one of this year’s newcomers: Poland. For the second consecutive year, Italy, represented by subcontractor Fabio Panio, obtained the second place. To complete our list, France won, on their own home turf, the title to the Best European TNT Driver, represented by William Gicquel.
Interesting enough, this was the first time that a winning driver is paired with a female co-driver; in this case, the French OPS Director, Viviane Reichert, shared the honours. Also, this was the first time that the host country wins over the competition, in the history of the Drive Me Challenge.
I know it might be a little soon yet, but after all this excitement, positive energy and enthusiasm, I cannot wait for what the next edition of the Drive Me will bring.