2023 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge results

The 2023 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge went down to the wire before the Queensland team of Lachlan Tate (Brown & Hurley) and Brayden Conaghan (Penske Australia) took out the title with a flawless fault-finding final.

A new format for the National Apprentice Challenge was introduced this year, with six training providers from around Australia, each selecting two apprentices to compete.

The competition was run over two intense days with six heats leading to the finals on the Friday afternoon of the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.

The South Bank Piazza is a fabulous amphitheatre, so if they weren’t such a collegiate lot, the competitors could easily have pictured themselves battling lions in the Coliseum.

The Brisbane Truck Show careers days brought close to 2,000 students from around fifty schools into South Bank. The National Apprentice Challenge is designed as a showcase of the great career opportunities on offer in the industry, and a variety of industry ambassadors were interviewed by our entertaining and informative host Cobey Bartels.

The topics covered went beyond the operational side of things, and talked about two interacting safely around trucks, with two campaigns being supported by the South Bank Truck Festival: the NHVR’s Don’t #uck with a truck, and the National Road Safety Partnership Program’s Look beyond the truck.

Competition coordinator, and former HVIA Director Chris Musch, said the event’s sponsors had fully invested themselves in ensuring every competitor’s experience would be rewarding and memorable.

“All the apprentices came into Brisbane Tuesday for a meet and greet dinner with each other, sponsors and briefing about the competition,” Chris said.

“Wednesday night the apprentices attended the HVIA Executive Club event on the eve of the Brisbane Truck Show.

“That was a great opportunity for them to meet industry leaders, many of whom also started in the workshop.

“By the end of the night, I think it started to really sink in what a great pathway they were on.”

Thursday was the start of the competition with four heats held throughout the day. Chris said that all teams worked extremely well together to solve as many faults as possible within the available forty-five minutes of each heat.

Straight off the ship, three Western Star 47X trucks were supplied by Penske Australia, along with their expert staff to program the faults into the trucks before each heat.

“At the end of day one scores were very close, separated by either one or two points, or time penalties,” he said.

The final two heats were held on Friday morning.

“There were positive signs that the apprentices had learnt from Thursday’s competition and put together a plan to ensure they got into the final,” Chris said.

The top three teams made it through to the big showdown on Friday afternoon.

“The final consisted of nine programmed faults, plus a tenth bonus fault, all of which the apprentices had to find within the sixty-minute time limit,” Chris explained.

Lachlan and Brayden won the final by fixing all nine faults and the bounce fault in a time of 56 minutes.

“This is the first time for me that we have a team complete all tasks, and it was in a record time,” Chris said.

Determining second place required a countback to the heats to separate in the end resolved by a fifteen-second time penalty.

That put Kyle Guy and Ryan Robinson (both of Followmont Transport) ahead of Nathan Kaker (Penske Australia) and Caleb Todd (Cummins South Pacific).

“The National Apprentice Challenge competition, and the apprentices competing, showcased a very bright future within our industry to the school students attending,” Chris said.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in ensuring we had a successful competition; All sponsors, MC Cobey Bartels, Penske Australia Staff, the apprentices and their employers, and South Bank Parklands event staff.

Teams & Results

First place:

  • Lachlan Tate (Brown & Hurley) and Brayden Conaghan (Penske Australia)
    • representing TAFE Qld Skills Tech

Second place:

  • Kyle Guy and Ryan Robinson (both Followmont Transport)
    • representing Busy at Work QLD

Third place:

  • Nathan Kaker (Penske Australia) and Caleb Todd (Cummins South Pacific)
    • representing Central Regional TAFE WA

Congratulations also to:

  • Ben Seyffer (Nowra Truck & Tractor Repairs) and Sara Attard (Transport for NSW)
    • representing TAFE NSW
  • Paris Maw (CMV Truck & Bus) and Jackson Marriott (Peninsula Diesel Repairs)
    • representing Kangan TAFE VIC
  • Blade Elzer (Major Motors Isuzu) and Jacob Zurolo (MTAWA)
    • representing South Metro TAFE WA


  • National Transport Insurance
  • Truck Assist
  • Western Star Trucks Australia (Penske)
  • Wurth Australia
  • Totally WorkWear
  • TAFE SkillsTech Queensland

Australian Heavy Vehicle Industry Week Partners

  • Queensland Government & Tourism and Events Queensland
  • Brisbane Economic Development Agency

South Bank Truck Festival Partners

  • South Bank Parklands
  • Eat South Bank (South Bank Corporation)

Trucks Supplied

Western Star 47X – a new model truck launched at the Brisbane Truck Show, which meant no one had any previous experience working on the truck.

The Penske staff ensured the introduced faults are generic which you will find on all brands of large trucks and were on hand to give a little guidance when required.


Heats – 45 min with 9 Faults introduced into the trucks by Penske Australia staff
Final – 60 min with 9 Faults plus a Bounce Fault introduced into the trucks.

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