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Corey Pettifer, left, and Brayden McMillan-Phillips with their truck driving awards. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Truckers haul national awards

Puriri truck drivers Corey Pettifer and Brayden McMillan-Phillips were “in shock” after hauling national awards at the national truck driving championships last month.
The Graeme Wright Transport drivers told The Profile they were entered into the Auckland heats of the TR Group NZ Truck Driving Championships 2022 by their boss, Graeme “Gunner” Wright, with both qualifying to compete in the final held in Christchurch on November 26.
Brayden went on to win TR Group Young Driver of the Year at the finals, and Corey, who has driven trucks for Gunner for six years, said he “fluked it” to win the TR Group Truck and Trailer Driver of the Year and New Zealand Truck Driving Champion.
“[I was] pretty shocked really, didn’t really expect it, [because I was] competing against some drivers from the South Island who had probably been driving for 30 years,” Corey said.
“I just went in and gave it what I got…and [the judges] were impressed – good driver, steady, and focused.
“I’ve been told I’ve got an automatic entry into the finals in two years’ time when it’s held again.”
Corey, who previously worked for Kerepehi Transport, said competitors at the Auckland heats on October 15 had to undergo three trucking tasks.
These included a 35-question NZ Heavy Vehicle Road Code theory test, a pre-trip inspection, and completing a driving and maneuvering course.
“Gunner asked ‘would you be interested in doing it?’ so I was like ‘oh yeah, I’ll give it a go’.
“[The judges] were impressed and one of the judges was known to Gunner as well in previous years, he was an ex-Puriri local I think.
“I came first in the Auckland heats [for the truck and trailer category]… and that put me into the finals in the South Island [Christchurch].”
Corey said there were eight finalists in the final competition, who competed in a driving and maneuvering course and an on road test that was observed by a TR Group driving trainer.
Brayden, who returned to trucking for Gunner six months ago after working for Alpha One Transport and Brett Marsh Transport, said drivers had to be 25 years and under to compete for the Young Driver of the Year award.
It was “a bit of a shocker” after he won TR Group Young Driver of the Year, he said.
“I must’ve scored the most points out of the young fellas.
“Meeting with the other drivers was bloody good, and all the staff running the thing was awesome.”
“Definitely something to look into and I encourage young fellas to give it a go.”