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Rhys Jones (above) loves his new Mack....and loves driving through the spectacular Central Otago countryside. But he admits to being a little concerned that our test just happens to coincide with the long HPMV unit’s first time up the Crown Range Zig-Zag (right). It’s a great test of the Super-Liner’s capabilities

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RIVER RHYS JONES SPENT A FEW HOURS LAST night worrying about this test – understandably, given the newness of this Mack Super-Liner. The 50MAX-rated truck and trailer tipper combination, operated by Fulton Hogan Central out of Cromwell in Central Otago, has been in service less than a week – so he’s not yet fully up to speed with its ins and outs. But, it turns out, that’s not his concern – he’s been fully briefed by the driver trainer from Mack importer Motor Truck Distributors, and he’s already finding the Mack a delight to drive. Instead, what has been exercising his mind is the challenge of the route for today’s first load – clean sand, destined for the bunkers in a private golf course being built on a property adjoining the Crown Range road, at the top of the Zig-Zag, where the road rises steeply from the bottom of the hill on the Queenstown side. It is a formidable bit of road, the Zig-Zag – gaining over 200 metres in elevation in little more than a couple of kilometres, and clawing its way to the top of the escarpment through a serious of seven hairpin bends that rival those in the French Alps traversed each year by the Tour de France. “I’ve had issues with that road,” Jones mutters, as

he guides the new combination through the Kawarau Gorge en route to the Crown Range turnoff. Oh yeah, he’s been up there loaded before...but that was with a standard 44-tonnes all-up weight and a standardlength unit, not the 50t and 22 metres of the 8x4 Mack and its five-axle Transport Trailers partner. And how about tossing another variable into the mix – namely the tourists who see themselves intrepid enough to take on the Crown Range…but, when faced with a heavy truck struggling to make the grade and taking up all the road, often react in unexpected ways? That’s one of the reasons this is the day’s first load – the visitors to the region are nothing if not predictable in their timetables, and he figures we’ll be up and down before the mid-morning “rush” arrives from Wanaka. The locals who constitute the majority of the traffic at this time of day have learnt to keep a sharp eye out on the switchbacks for oncoming vehicles, so they’re less of a concern. Rhys picked up the sand in Dunedin yesterday and took it through to FH’s Cromwell depot, where the truck stayed overnight. The run through the Gorge takes not much over half an hour, the Super-Liner easily keeping pace with the moderate traffic. Even Truck & Driver | 25

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NZ Truck & Driver Dec/Jan 2018  
NZ Truck & Driver Dec/Jan 2018