EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Canadian Driver Derek Martin (far right) went nose-to-nose against these other drivers for the title “World’s Toughest Trucker.”
ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA — Truck Driver Derek Martin sat behind the steering wheel of the right-hand-drive Kenworth, peered over his left shoulder to his co-driver and navigator Mike Thomas-Clark and stated the obvious. They were lost.
They weren’t just lost, lost. The pair — Martin from Hamilton, ON., Thomas-Clark from Scotland — were tens of thousands of miles from home with nothing more than a backpacker’s GPS to guide them. Worse, they were on the verge of watching a $150,000 prize go up in fumes.
The men were two of eight drivers vying for the right to call themselves the World’s Toughest Trucker.
It was Day Two of what would eventually be a total of 18 days (filmed over several weeks) of grueling competition in Australia, Mongolia, Squamish B.C., the jungles of Brazil, and two locations in India.
Day One had gone well for Martin and Thomas-Clark.
Right off the start, a little fuelling-up trick that Martin figured out gave them a huge head start, so they went into the second day with a 40-point lead.
Then on Day Two, they missed the turn. They knew they were losing serious ground to the other competitors. And that at least two of the drivers would be sent home and dropped from the competition.
They took a GPS reading, found their way back to the road, and a few hours later, Martin steered his rig, which was hauling a trailer load of cattle, over a rise, expecting to see nothing by Australian desert ahead.
But down the slope, they saw all three of their competitors, mired in mud up to the axles; stuck solid. It was a happy moment for Martin and Thomas-Clark. If they hadn’t made a wrong turn, they would have been the first truck into the mud but because they erred, they avoided the trap altogether and emerged, from the first round of the competition, in first place.
“It was so bad they had to walk an excavator 250 km in to get those trucks out,” Martin laughs now, months later.
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