For Taquions it was a case of third time lucky. The team from Porto, Portugal have qualified for the past two VISTA semi finals in 2007 and 2009, but only in 2011 have they managed to go one better and qualify for the world final.
“It has been a tough competition so we are very surprised,” says Helder Abrantes, team leader for Taquions, immediately after hearing the announcement. “It is good to know that we are able to complete such tasks and perform at this level.”
Taquions qualified for the world final after finished second in the region East VISTA semi final in Thessaloniki, Greece. In total eighteen teams from Turkey, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Bosnia, Belarus, Macedonia, Serbia, Portugal and the host nation Greece took part, with the top two going through to Gothenburg, Sweden for the VISTA world final in June, where they’ll be competing against the best technicians in Volvo Trucks’ and Volvo Buses’ global network.
For region East, VISTA 2011 initially started with 250 teams from Turkey, Israel, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Bosnia, Belarus, Macedonia, Serbia, Portugal and the host nation Greece. Taquions were one of three teams from Portugal to qualify for the semi final through the first three rounds of theoretical questions. But as all teams discovered once they arrived in Thessaloniki, answering theoretical questions in your own workshop is completely different to solving tasks in a competition environment.
“It is very different to the workshop and there is more pressure, but it forces group work and to do things together,” says Victor Almeida, after his team have successfully reassembled a brake calliper with brake pads.
Taquions’ members work for Auto Sueco, who has been selling Volvo vehicles in Portugal since the 1930s. Filipe Fonseca, VISTA market leader for Portugal, has accompanied the three Auto Sueco teams to Greece, in the hope that at least one might make it to the final but immediately after the competition finished for the day he is not confident. “They’re good mechanics and definitely good enough to be in the final, but all three teams have made some mistakes. I don’t know why since these are things they do everyday at work – I guess it’s the pressure,” he says. “But VISTA is not just a competition, it is also a training programme, and the reason we take part is to learn.” Helder Abrantes agrees: “It’s been a great experience but I don’t think we’ll win.”
Consequently, the announcement that evening that Taquions have finished second and will be going to the world final was meet with stunned silence. Even when they were formally given their invitation to the world final, they struggled to comprehend that in a few months time they’d be going to Gothenburg, Sweden – the home and birthplace of Volvo.
“Our relationship with Volvo is almost as old as Volvo itself, and VISTA has been a great way of building and maintaining that relationship,” says Filipe. “And now it will allow Taquions to represent us amongst the best Volvo technicians in the world.”