Press Releases   May 13, 2015

UK contractor on the podium

Scottish forestry contractor Simon Richardson from Langholm in Dumfriesshire was runner-up in the 2015 European Tractor Drivers Challenge, jointly organised by John Deere and Michelin. The winner was French contractor Sebastien Mahaut, and Dutch farmer/contractor Edwin Dekkor was placed third.

Simon was selected to represent the UK in the competition against five other drivers from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, following a John Deere website promotion earlier this year. The driving challenge took place in May at Michelin’s Technical Innovation Centre Test Circuit in Ladoux, central France, which is one of the world’s largest vehicle test centres, featuring 19 test tracks with a combined length of 41km (25.5 miles).

The competition was designed to test the drivers’ mental ability as well as driving skills. Each participant had to drive his own John Deere 6215R AutoPowr tractor, hauling a 25-tonne Joskin twin-axle trailer around the course and tackling a number of obstacles. The tractors were all equipped with Michelin MachXBib tyres, with the trailers on Michelin CargoXBib High Flotation tyres.

The set tasks included road driving, hill climbing, both soft ground and rough terrain driving, reversing and driving at speed. However, the competition was not to see who could finish in the fastest time – it was equally designed to challenge the drivers to set up their tractor and trailer properly and to set the correct tyre pressures beforehand, bearing in mind each of the driving obstacles.

Drivers had around one hour to discuss strategy with their John Deere dealer – Simon was accompanied by salesman Robin Vevers from his local John Deere dealer Johnston Tractors at Dumfries – and complete a practice lap of the course to familiarise themselves with it. Points were awarded for lowest fuel consumption, least ground compaction on the soft soil and driving safety – all key essentials of being an efficient contractor.

“Firstly, it was a great honour to be chosen as the UK representative in this challenge,” said Simon Richardson. “I run two John Deere tractors, a 6210R and a 6150R, and eight diggers in my forestry contracting business, making ground ready for the planting of trees.

“Having inspected the test track on the trial run, and after discussions with Robin, I decided to use the AutoPowr transmission in automatic mode instead of manual. I also reset the tyre pressures to 2.4 bar on all four tractor tyres and 3.0 bar on the trailer tyres, bearing in mind I was going to be on the road for most of the course.”

This decision paid off as Simon’s fuel consumption was the lowest on these parts of the course. He was judged first on one of the sectors and second in the others, gaining him second place overall, and his general driving ability was praised by both the John Deere and Michelin teams.

“Simon is an excellent driver and knows exactly what he is looking for in a tractor,” said John Deere dealer Robin Vevers. “I and the team at Johnston Tractors are all very pleased for him and happy to be part of this event.”

Simon Richardson added: “I did learn a great deal and won’t be taking tyre pressures for granted in the future. It was a great experience for me, and I was very chuffed to finish in second place and win my model John Deere tractor trophy.”

Further background information on the event and how it came about is available by clicking here