Alcan 5000 Update: We Won Our Class In the INEOS Grenadier!

INEOS Grenadier on the winter Alcan 5000 Rally.

As you may know, we took an INEOS Grenadier on the winter 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally. Well, we won our class in the INEOS, edging out 16 other trucks and SUVs to take the top spot in the 2S class.

The 2S class consisted of 17 trucks and SUVs running the “seat of the pants” or SOP class. This means no rally computers, just good old-fashioned equations to determine incremental times between checkpoints. This was also the largest class on the Alcan 5000 Rally.

INEOS Automotive, the company that provided our trusty chariot, wrote the following press release yesterday (March 4, 2024):


Anchorage, Alaska. March 4, 2024 –INEOS Automotive is celebrating its first rally win in the US and Canadian endurance Alcan 5000 Rally 2024, within the first year of the 4X4 launching. The INEOS Grenadier beat 16 other competitors to claim victory in the Truck/SUV class of the 5000 mile, 10-day Alcan Rally, with the unmodified vehicle piloted by Andy and navigated by Mercedes Lilienthal of Portland, Oregon.
The Alcan 5000 Rally is a time-speed-distance (TSD) endurance rally. This isn’t a race where the fastest team wins, but a precision event where competitors travel on public roads or trails, following specific routes at precisely prescribed rally-designated speeds. Teams with the closest time to their “perfect on-time” win their respective class, meaning vehicles must perform as well on and off-road to succeed.
The event sweeps the far Northwest of the US and Canada, beginning in Kirkland, Washington State, crossing British Columbia, Canada, as well as above Alaska’s Artic Circle, and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, the day before the famous Iditarod Race of mushers and their dog teams. The event features ice roads, ice slaloms, endurance tests and long 14-hour drive days

Andy Lilienthal, a journalist and the team’s driver said, “With temps as low as –32 degrees Fahrenheit, the INEOS Grenadier was a solid performer in every condition we put it in. Its suspension easily soaked up hundreds of miles of frost heaves and potholes, the turbocharged engine had plenty of power to get by slow traffic, and the interior was comfortable and versatile. It was a champ in the deeper snows on the ice slalom competition too. The Grenadier was an excellent vehicle to have on this long and demanding rally. To have this new vehicle on the 40th year of the Alcan 5000 and take top honors in our class was amazing.”

Lynn Calder, CEO of INEOS Automotive, comments, “Mercedes and Andy are true trailblazers that really pushed our Grenadier to the limit and excelled. Watching their journey across 5,000 miles was great fun, even the brutal, competitive endurance tests in the ice and snow. Well done, team!”

The Battle For The 2S Class

We didn’t take the lead in 2S until day two. Our first day’s TSD (time speed distance) rally was OK, but it wasn’t enough to start out on top. On day two we had the best TSD of our lives. This catapulted us into the class lead. We were in the top spot for 7 of the 10 rally days, but it wasn’t without challenge.

On the day of the ice racers, I set the 3rd fastest time on the track!

A host of teams began chipping away at our lead, which wasn’t very big. One of those teams was our buddy car, #17, a 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited driven by Shane Bowman and co-driven by John Williams. We’re required to have a buddy car during the winter rally due to the frigid conditions. Team 17 was within seconds of taking the lead in multiple stages. It all came down to the last TSD, where they were down just four seconds from us. However, we ended up taking the win by a mere 10.3 seconds, enough to win the class. Shane and John were excellent competition and are also excellent people; they took 2nd in 2S.

Rallying The Grenadier

The Grenadier was an excellent Alcan 5000 Rally vehicle. We look for power, comfort, and ground clearance in an Alcan 5000 rig, and the Grenadier had those in spades. The turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 BMW powerplant had plenty of grunt to get past traffic on two-lane roads. We used manual mode to hold our RPMs during the TSD sections, which worked wonderfully. The Recaro seats never left our backs in pain even after multiple 13-hour drive days, even though ours didn’t have the heated option.

The suspension system over-delivered on the bad roads at speed, soaking up dips, holes, and cracks with ease. I didn’t expect that from a solid-axle vehicle. Also brilliant was the L-track in the cargo area. It makes tying down your cargo super easy and very secure. Why don’t other companies offer this? Finally, with 10.4 inches (264mm) of ground clearance, deep snow, road hazards, and even the biggest frost heaves didn’t stand a chance.

The infotainment system had a steep learning curve. Some menu options were multiple steps deep. Also, not being able to go from MPH to KM/H, for example, wasn’t ideal. (We’re told this will be solved in a future software update.) We also found the HVAC to be difficult to regulate. It was either blazingly hot or ice cold with little in between. Thankfully, the heater was exceptionally strong and we didn’t mind cracking a window if need be—even at -13°F (-25°C). The steering felt slow when we first got the vehicle, especially around town. It doesn’t come back to center quickly. However, I soon got used to the slower steering, it proved to be a blessing, especially in slippery conditions where having “fast hands” isn’t a good thing.

In temps as low as -32°F (-36°C), the Grenadier started easily and we didn’t even use the added oil pan heaters. However, all vehicles do weird things when the temperature is that cold. We had one check engine light in Yellowknife for low voltage (even though the battery voltage was normal). I reset the code and it never came back on. We also had a power steering error that day, but once it warmed up, it went away and we had no other malfunction lights for the rest of the trip.

We equipped the Grenadier with Michelin X-Ice Snow tires and I can’t say enough good about them. They were quiet on the pavement and clawed at the snow with the tenacity of a grizzly bear. They offered short stopping distances on ice and were, overall, a super tire choice for the inclement conditions in Canada and Alaska. Highly recommended.

Another Alcan 5000 In The Books: Great People, Great Trip

Everyone on the rally was great—something we expected. The Alcan 5000’s camaraderie is always second to none. People are friendly, helpful, and genuinely supportive throughout the 5,000-mile trip. Of course, the trip itself is also truly excellent with incredible winter vistas, a wide array of wildlife (including arctic fox, bison, moose, and ptarmigan), and great winter driving roads. Some of the conditions were terrible (e.g. Thompson Pass), but the roads were phenomenal.

The Alcan 5000 has become engrained in us. We didn’t expect to win our class in 2024, but we did. Thanks in part to previous experience and a great rally vehicle, we were triumphant, and that feels great! There will be a 2025 Alcan 5000 summer rally and another 2026 summer rally so as to not have so much time between events. And yes, we’re already signed up for ’25 and we can’t wait

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