Car news, Eye on the Industry, Feature Story, Features

What is MazTech?


They say competition improves the breed, and what better way for technicians to properly test themselves than in the heat of battle?

There’s a fair bit of pressure when your boss – or worse yet a customer – leans over your should as you work on a car.
They watch, they assess, they critique. They may even make a little noise that could translate as ‘good job’ or ‘why’s he done that?’

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Now imagine you’re working on a tricky problem, the clock’s ticking, and there’s a chap right in your face dissecting your every move. When you’re done, he silently and secretly writes down your score.
This is the pressure cooker of MazTech, where Australia’s best Mazda technicians compete against each other and the clock to detect and correct faults on vehicles and components.
For one competitor – this year it was Luke Carabott from Ryde Mazda – the ultimate prize is being crowned the best Mazda technician in the country.


To win you need experience, coolness under pressure and the ability to think and work fast. The MazTech event usually takes place in over 50 countries, but has been disrupted by COVID in recent years. Two winning master technicians from each country – from as far afield as Colombia, USA and Italy – then go to compete in Horishima, Japan, in the MazTech World Final. It was last held in 2019, and, we can say with pride, Team Australia is reigning champion. Not bad going when you consider more than 22,000 global Mazda technicians were entered in the first round of testing.

Test your metal

It’s not known when the next World Final would be, but for 2022, Mazda Australia ensured its national assessment continued. Mark Oldis runs our event and explained every Mazda Master Technician in the country had to enter the first round, an online exam. “To qualify for the state round, they needed a certain score and be selected by their dealership to compete; they had to be the best of the best at their place of work,” he said. You’re then up against the winners
in each state, where the challenge was working on six different on-vehicle and on-bench tests.
“You get 20 minutes to diagnose a vehicle fault or complete a repair test on an engine or electrically,” Mark said. “From there we take the top two from QLD/NT, NSW and VIC/TAS, plus one from SA and WA for the national final.”


So, what sort of issues and problems do the technicians need to work out in double-quick time? Mazda brought many of its current vehicle range, from the popular CX-5 SUV to the BT-50 ute (co-developed with Isuzu) and a CX-30 featuring the brand’s complex Skyactiv-x engine: a petrol four-cylinder with innovative spark-controlled compression ignition. The BT-50 was presented with low power concern (we all jokingly blamed Isuzu for that); the CX-30’s key fob wouldn’t work and the CX-5’s windscreen wipers refused to return to their park position.

“The technicians are judged on time, obviously, but also on best practice, best procedure and not damaging the vehicle,” said Mark. “In our training we have six diagnostic steps we use, such as verifying the fault and accessing the right part of the workshop manual, and there’s a specific judging criteria for each.”


Mind games

Luke Carabott went through from NSW to the Australian final, where he and others were presented with eight stations to complete – just as they would at the World Final. They had a BT-50’s auto gearbox that wouldn’t shift smoothly, a non-cranking CX-8, a cranking but non-starting CX-30, busted headlight in a CX-5 and a Mazda6 requiring a cylinder leakdown test. “It’s pretty full on,” said Luke after his victory.
“It’s just you and the guy assessing at that station, so it’s head down and try your best. At the end of it all I had the biggest headache; we were all exhausted. It’s not the physical side, it’s the mental.”


Luke had competed a few years before and thought his prior experience helped his win. There’s the well-earned glory, but it’s also no bad thing to go back to your workplace and remind co-workers you’re the best Mazda tech in the land. Luke said he encountered faults most would rarely see, and even ones he’d not had during his eight years with Mazda, so took many learnings from the event. And, from a professional point of view, he’s further upskilled and has been able to share this knowledge with his team in Ryde. The joy of competition aside, striving for higher technical expertise at manufacturer workshops is a noble cause. “For me, who writes the tests, it’s also a skills-gap analysis,” Mark said. “As they’re competing I can see where they might need extra training.” Many car brands do similar events to MazTech, suggesting there are key benefits to bringing a competitive element to diagnosis and repair. The likes of Jaguar/Land Rover, Nissan and Volkswagen all have their own contests, while Hyundai has the brilliantly-named World Skill Olympics.


MazTech immortality

So, I know you’re thinking it: what are the prizes? Across the industry it’s been known for technicians to win a new car or global holidays for being best in the world, but Mazda sticks to trophies and glory. “For Luke to be the elite technician in his state, and then to be the best of a very select group in Australia, is a pretty big achievement,” said Mark. Luke snared a $500 travel voucher for winning the Australian round, but sadly missed out on the all-expenses trip to Japan to compete against winners from other countries, again due to COVID. “I need to push for automatic entry for the next World Championships!” he joked. That, or he’s just going to have to go out and win it all over again next year.

Words and images from Iain Curry.

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