Placed on 28/02/2017
From the heat of Paraguay to ice-cold Lapland – much of the past couple of months has been spent travelling to some fascinating parts of the world that I have been lucky enough to visit on behalf of VB-Airsuspension. At the end of December, I boarded a plane headed for South America to act as Team Manager to GINAF Rally Service for three weeks during Dakar 2017. This was a completely new experience and an exciting challenge for me. The Dakar has always been something of a passion for me, and the fact that several of the competition trucks are also fitted with our air suspension systems makes it even more special.
As Team Manager of GINAF Rally Service, I was involved with three teams: Smink Rally Sport, Van Velsen Rally Sport and Rainbow Truck Team. I would love to have seen all three teams cross the finish line, but unfortunately it wasn't to be for the Rainbow Truck Team. A breakdown during the ninth and ten stages put paid to their chances - a bad stroke of luck, but in the tough conditions of the Dakar there's no saying what may happen. It was great to see the other teams reach the finish successfully and our air suspension systems once again gave top performance. In any event, I can look back on an amazing experience I will not soon forget.
While I was away from the office, all projects kept running as usual. For example, the hard work on developing the air suspension for the new Volkswagen Crafter continued apace.
The first trade fair visit of 2017 was in the schedule not long after the Dakar: the CMT in Stuttgart, one of the biggest and most popular camping and caravanning fairs in Germany. Fitting then that this forward-looking trade fair was the venue for the presentation of the European Innovation Awards. It came as a tremendous surprise to learn that VB-Airsuspension had been singled out for an award in the category of “Safety” for our latest product VB-ActiveAir. Because of my involvement with the Dakar, I was not in the country when the award ceremony took place, but I was delighted and proud to hear the news. We were up against strong competition from several highly regarded companies with some great innovations, but despite this, VB-ActiveAir still put us ahead of the field. There could be no better start to 2017 as far as I'm concerned.
The year began with more travelling: two weeks after the fair, I set off on a trip to do some filming with a motorhome manufacturer in the icy cold temperatures of Lapland. This was a successful trip that we will tell you more about later in the newsletter.
I hope 2017 has got off to an equally good start for you and that we can make this a top year!