The Asia-Pacific finals of Caterpillar’s Global Operator Challenge in Tokyo saw five Australian finalists compete against the best operators from Japan, Indonesia, India, and Philippines, Jamie Gray reports.
Life is all about making the most of opportunities. The five Australian finalists, who in October competed in the Asia-Pacific finals of Global Operator Challenge, were treated to a life-changing week-long experience in Tokyo, where they went up against the best operators from Japan, Indonesia, India, and Philippines. When the dust settled, two Australians stood tall as the best operators in the Asia-Pacific region.
For Australian competitors Patrick Doheny (Victoria) and Nick Thompson (South Australia), the adventure is set to continue as they go on to compete in the global finals in March at the 2023 CONEXPO in Las Vegas after placing first and second runner-up, respectively.
THE AUSTRALIAN TEAM
As per the Australian state qualifying events, the Asia-Pacific Finals revolved around three challenges, in which the competitors were scored based on time, quality of work and safety. With the competition spread over two days and no leader board scores displayed, it was anyone’s guess right up to the presentation who had performed the best in the eyes of the judges. As it turned out, it was speed and time that the judges were most focused on. Time penalties were added to the competitor’s overall score for any indiscretions or mistakes made along the way.
The Australian team consisted of a great bunch of characters that did a fantastic job of representing their state and dealer. Jake Myers from Western Australia shone as a standout performer. He has stepped into a different role at his work and hasn’t been operating machines for a year or so. Myers was awarded the prize for safety and performance, which truly showed the quality of his work.
Jack Dival was the New South Wales finalist, who put in three impressive performances across the competition and missed out on making it to the top three. Aiden Lee from Queensland rounded out the five Australian finalists, and if it weren’t for a couple of penalties on his first challenge on the first day, where a few nerves just got the better of him, he also would have been a real candidate for the top three.
The first challenge of the three was the “Big Dig” Excavator Challenge, where competitors operated a Next Gen Cat 320 with 2D GRADE technology and 0.8 cubic metre bucket. The objective was to dig a 6000-millimetre (mm) trench to a depth of 900mm with a three metre (m) flat bottom and a three metre 30 per cent slope.
The second challenge was the “Load & Go” Medium Wheel Loader Challenge, where competitors operated a 950M Z medium wheel loader. The objective was to load and carry material, achieving a target payload of nine tonnes (9000 kilograms). The course was around 200 metres long, and competitors needed to make two passes to reach the nine-tonne.
The final challenge was the Mini Excavator challenge, where competitors in the Cat Next Gen 303CR handled materials softly and precisely put them into specific features around the course. Elements included manoeuvring around the tight course without touching cones, dropping balls and raising flags in designated stands.
FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD
At the end of the competition, the Japanese contestant Masato Imai took out the event with a fantastic performance, with two Australians, Patrick Doheny from William Adams and Nick Thompson from CavPower coming in second and third.
Chatting with the two Aussie lads about their experience, Thompson shared his excitement.
“This whole experience from start to finish has been amazing, from the Japanese people and experience to the quality of the event, amazing food and opportunity to have my first overseas experience here in Japan. The fact that in just three or four months, I’ll be heading to Las Vegas with Pat as the AsiaPacific finalist is just mind-blowing,” he said.
“When I decided to enter the local CavPower/Cat competition in South Australia, I didn’t think for a minute that this amazing journey and experience was about to unfold. Coming to Japan alone was massive on its own, but to now have the Global Finals in Las Vegas to compete in, has blown my mind. The Caterpillar team deserves a huge pat on the back for the quality of this event.”
Doheny also shared his experience. “In the loader challenge on the first day of competition, I didn’t feel like I had performed well, so when I had the excavator challenge on the last day of competition, I knew I had to step things up. Luckily for me, it went extremely well, and I felt like I nailed that challenge. Overall, this whole experience has been fantastic, from the food to the amazing Caterpillar team who did an excellent job at putting on this huge event and also my dealer William Adams back at home in Victoria. I just can’t thank everybody involved enough.”
From the Global Operator Challenge event location in Chichibu to the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya, the Australian competitors were treated to an amazing Japanese experience. After having a chat with all the Aussie competitors before the announcements of the final results were made, it was clear that there was one consistent theme that shone through, and that was just how happy each of the competitors was that they grasped the opportunity with two hands to compete in the Cat Global Operator Challenge.
The Cat Global Operator Challenge, being held in March 2023 at CONEXPO in Las Vegas, will identify the world’s best operator from over nearly 40 countries, where more than 80 Cat dealers from around the world have held local, one-of-a-kind competitions. We wish our two Australian Global finalists all the best in what will surely be yet another amazing adventure and opportunity with the Cat team.