Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A.’s Customer Support Group has named Jeff Eckman as the 2013 U.S. Technician Grand Prix (USTGP) Champion. Eckman, of Yamaha-Honda East in Maumee, Ohio, will represent the United States at Yamaha’s 2014 World Technician Grand Prix (WTGP), a head-to-head competition of international Yamaha-trained technicians to be held next year at Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. world headquarters in Iwata, Japan.
The 2013 USTGP took place at Yamaha’s National Motorsports Dealer Meeting in June in Las Vegas. Yamaha created a complete dealership workshop on the show floor and each contestant had one hour to complete each individual test. The six tests included Service Reception using a 2014 Bolt from Star Motorcycles, Routine Service with a 2013 YZF-R6, Head Gasket Replacement with a 2013 YZ450F, No Start with a 2013 Super Ténéré, Hard Steering using a 2013 Grizzly 450, and Electrical Troubleshooting on a 2013 Star Raider SCL.
Eckman and five other Yamaha Technical Academy (YTA) Gold Level Training graduates earned invitations to this year’s competition by finishing top among the 160 dealership technicians who received YTA Gold Level Training in the past year.
Finishing second and third, respectively, were David Speeks of Houston Motorsports and Matt Russell, Wild West Motorsports, Greeley, Colo. The remaining three contestants were Tony Rice, Coleman Powersports, Falls Church, Va.; Jeremiah Thibeau, Davis Service Center, Montrose, Colo.; and Travers Wise, Grand Mesa Motorsports, Delta, Colo.
“Yamaha is extremely proud of how well each 2013 USTGP contestant performed under extreme pressure and the watchful eyes of our expert judges,” said Frank Pittman, general manager of Yamaha Motor Corporation U.S.A.’s Customer Support Group. “Their years of Yamaha training provided the solid footing needed to quickly diagnose and address the competition’s technical challenges. Their live participation at the dealer meeting also prepares them to handle everyday customer issues, which is the most important test of all.”
Eckman has roughly a year to prepare for the 2014 WTGP, where he will face international technicians who also are the best in their respective markets. However, he has two WTGP veterans to call on for advice: Mark Sagers from South Valley Motorsports in Draper, Utah, and Eric Romanowicz from Mondus Motorsports in Hudson, Wis., who finished second and third overall in the 2012 WTGP and served as judges in Las Vegas.
A guiding principle for all Yamaha distributors’ service divisions is One to One Service, which aims to build an outstanding relationship with each customer at the dealer level. The company’s YTA training programs are designed to reinforce this principle by continuously honing Yamaha technicians’ skills to help ensure service excellence at authorized Yamaha dealers nationwide. Today, there are more than 30,000 YTA trained technicians worldwide.