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The Semezies transport company wins the 2014 Optifuel Challenge

The last round of the 2014 Optifuel Challenge, an international eco-driving competition organized by Renault Trucks, was held in Nice on 29th October. A total of 28 contestants from fifteen countries were on hand to demonstrate eco-driving profitability and their prowess behind the wheel of Renault Trucks' T 460 Optifuel. Stéphane Saves, French driver with the company Semezies, won first place ahead of another French competitor, Jean-Philippe Rioux representing Stef, and a 26-year-old Hungarian driver, Dániel Nagy with Káta-Kamion.

On 29th October 2014 in the Southern French city of Nice, Renault Trucks' Optifuel Challenge, a competition devoted to economically-efficient driving and reducing consumption, awarded prizes to two French drivers and a Hungarian contestant.

The title of Best International Eco-Driver was bestowed upon Stéphane Saves representing the French transport firm Semezies. This professional with six years of experience in his rig shared: "I felt I had a decent chance. I received good training by Renault Trucks in eco-driving techniques, which boosted my fuel efficiency by 6 liters for every 100 km, and I'm very committed to the Optifuel program. I use Infomax on a daily basis to improve both my consumption and driving. But I still crossed the finish line all stressed out! The pressure was tremendous…". He went on: "I'm really pleased to have won the competition and hope to defend my title next year or else hand the wheel over to a teammate since the company is loaded with talented drivers!". Corinne Semezies, who heads the firm and attended the event in Nice alongside her driver, celebrated the victory: "This prize acknowledges Stéphane's personal dedication and Semezies' entire team of drivers, particularly in the area of lowering consumption." The company, with 12 permanent drivers on staff, is in fact quite heavily involved in this effort: "We place considerable emphasis on training our drivers, who once trained transmit their expertise to the next generation. Optifuel Infomax yields data that allow each participant to improve performance, but drivers are not actually competing against one another. Our company is first and foremost a family business, run with a family attitude", summed up Corinne. Thanks to its driver training policy, her company saves 25,000 liters of fuel annually and reduces maintenance costs on its fleet, notably through a more optimized use of braking. Mr. Saves was awarded an €8,000 gift card to be redeemed at any store, plus a mini iPad and the Nav'Truck Europe GPS application for trucks. The Semezies firm received 1 year of a complimentary Renault Trucks T 460 Optifuel full-service rental.

Another French contestant, Jean-Philippe Rioux driving for the Stef company, took home second place. He admitted entering the competition without any special training beforehand. With 30 years of experience under his belt, Jean-Philippe works day in day out to spread good driving practices within the firm: "My objective was to finish among the top 3, so I'm thrilled. I'm pleased with my performance; I used Optiroll at 50% and feel that this level of Optiroll optimization made the difference." He was accompanied by Gilles Wachalski, who runs Stef's driver training program: "This second place is a recognition of the quality of drivers, all of whom receive training every three years. Training is an integral part of their objectives and of Stef's corporate culture." According to Gilles, his driver's perfectionism is what sets him apart: "He knows the meaning of a job well done and fine tunes his technique in constant pursuit of perfection. Above all else, he loves his trade!" Mr. Rioux won a €2,000 gift card redeemable wherever he likes, the Nav'Truck Europe device and a mini iPad; moreover, his performance netted the company €3,000 in Renault Trucks gift cards.

A Hungarian driver just 26 years old grabbed third place: Dániel Nagy from the firm Káta-Kamion. A marketing rep with the local Renault Trucks distribution network was responsible for convincing Dániel to participate in the Optifuel Challenge, based on a hunch that the young driver had a good chance of winning, given Dániel's constant attention to economical and rational driving techniques: "This company is my family's business, so it's important I do what I can to reduce my fuel consumption", explains Dániel. Managing Director Istvan Nagy confirms that his company pays considerable attention to its drivers' consumption patterns, which are scrutinized regularly. The best drivers receive a bonus and get to choose their vehicle and even their routes. "I'm excited today that one of our drivers stood on the winners' podium and even prouder knowing it was my son!", noted the elder Nagy. Dániel received a €1,000 gift card redeemable at the retailers of his choice, the Nav'Truck Europe device and a mini iPad, while his effort won for the firm €2,000 in Renault Trucks gift cards.

The competition

The final round of the 2014 International Optifuel Challenge gathered Europe's 28 best eco-drivers selected from among 6,000 entrants during national challenge events staged across 15 countries and involving in all over 1,200 transport firms. Finalists competed behind the wheel of Renault Trucks "T", voted this September the 2015 international truck of the year.

Designed and organized by Renault Trucks since 2012, the Optifuel Challenge offers a perfect illustration of the automaker's commitment alongside its customers in the area of fuel efficiency as well as its comprehensive approach, in taking into account both the vehicle and associated services, in the aim of sustainably reducing consumption as of the 1st kilometer.

The competition was held in two stages. First, participants answered a subject-related questionnaire intended to test their knowledge on the basic principles of rational driving applied to a large rig and on optimizing fuel consumption.

Next, they completed a course on the open road, behind the wheel of the Renault Trucks T 460 Optifuel equipped with the DTI 11 engine, accompanied by a demonstrator.

To ensure all contestants had an equal chance of winning, the order of teams on the course was chosen randomly and each of the rigs (vehicle + semitrailer) was calibrated. Tire pressure was also checked. An additional vehicle traveled over the course with each group of drivers in order to take note of the various environmental elements capable of disturbing the course and to smooth any potential traffic-related impacts.

Upon finishing the route, the driving performance (number of brake pedal applications, time spent with the foot on neither pedal, percentage of consumption within the green zone), speed and fuel consumption were all analyzed with Renault Trucks' Optifuel Infomax measurement and analysis software. Next, expert judges provided contestants with feedback in proposing a precise report on how each of them performed.

Each driver was affiliated with a team composed of the company representative and a member of the local Renault Trucks network; these members were able to track driver performance in real time thanks to the Optifleet fleet management software.

With its two complementary products Optifuel Infomax and Optifleet, Renault Trucks is proposing a complete kit of consumption measurement, analysis and monitoring tools adapted to each customer. These tools serve to reduce consumption whether for a small / medium-sized concern or in large corporations with huge fleets; moreover, they are adapted to all sectors of activity, including construction, retail distribution and long-distance hauling.

Captions:

2_ (from left to right): Catherine Bach, Head of Communication Renault Trucks, Stéphane Saves, driver for Transports Semezies, Corinne Semezies, owner of Transports Semezies

3_Stéphane Saves, driver for Transports Semezies, winner of Optifuel Challenge 2014

5_ Catherine Bach, Head of Communication Renault Trucks, Jean-Philippe Rioux, driver for Transports STEF, Gilles Wachalski, trainer manager STEF and Bernard Modat, Senior-Vice President of Renault Trucks

4_István Nagy, owner of Káta-Kamion Kft, Dániel Nagy, driver for Kata-Kamion Kft et Pierre Postel, Services Offers Manager Renault Trucks

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