A Gutsy Grenadier: Winning At The 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

The INEOS Grenadier has been making waves since its debut on the North American market. However, how would it fare in a brutally cold Arctic competition? Would this first-time manufacturer make its mark in history or be left behind in snow dust? My husband, Andy Lilienthal, and I partnered with INEOS Automotive to drive a Grenadier Trialmaster 4×4 for the 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally. Would the freshman 4×4 prove it’s worth over 5,000 snow- and ice-covered miles during the 10-day event? We rolled the dice to see.

2024 INEOS Grenadier Trialmaster in line with other vehicles on Great Slave Lake for ice racing during the 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

Andy waiting for his turn at the ice slalom track on the Great Slave Lake. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

2024 Alcan 5000 Rally Classes

The Alcan 5000 Rally started in 1984, and 2024 was the event’s 40th year. Thirty-six teams entered this extreme endurance time-speed-distance (TSD) competition. Five classes comprised the 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally collective. Trucks and SUVs ran in either an Unlimited or SOP class (SOP means Seat Of Pants). They are called either 2U or 2S. Passenger cars compete in one Unlimited or one SOP segment, as 1U or 1S. Note: The proper equipment must be used according to either rally class.

A Historic segment was also offered. Any type of vehicle could enter this class so long as it dates from 1991 or earlier. Andy and I competed in the winter 2020 Alcan 5000 Rally in the Historic class. We drove our 1991 right-hand-drive Mitsubishi Pajero turbodiesel 4×4 to the Arctic Ocean, took it over 146 miles of ice roads, and more. Historic equipment can only be used for this class.

Ford Raptor with huge snow cloud while racing on Great Slave Lake during 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

Driver Dave Cole, known for running King of the Hammers, and his navigator Peter Schneider, tearing it up during the ice slalom challenge. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

Andy and I competed in the 2S segment this year. It was by far the largest category, with 17 of the 36 teams competing in the same space. The SOP class isn’t new to us, though it’s one that’s always challenging. Every rally organization runs vehicle classes differently and each auto’s demeanor is different (we typically don’t drive the same rig).

Only 87 miles were on the INEOS Grenadier’s odometer when we took receipt of it. No one has ever competed with one before, let alone in a competition so intense. We were the first, and Andy and I were willing to take the risks for potential rewards.

INEOS Grenadier front three quarters sits in front of a frozen waterway in Alaska

The INEOS Grenadier has a turbocharged 3.0-liter BMW straight-six engine that generates 281 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

Fast Facts:

  • The Alcan 5000 Rally is a precision rally, not one based on speed.
  • This year’s rally ran from Feb. 21 through March 1. Teams drove approximately 5,000 miles over 10 days.
  • We partnered with INEOS Automotive and drove a 2024 Grenadier Trialmaster 4×4 for the event.
  • Our vehicle was equipped with Michelin X-Ice SNOW tires (which did exceptionally well, especially during the ice slalom race on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, Canada).
  • A total of 36 teams competed, all of them finished.
  • We experienced white-out conditions, severe wind, and road closures—twice.
  • We hit temps down to -37 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Andy and I saw big game, like moose and bison, but not nearly as much as we did in 2020.
  • Most of the competitors had cracked windscreens and an even layer of gravel rash. Some suffered mechanical issues and other problems.
  • We competed in the 2 SOP truck/SUV class, the largest class (which had 17 total vehicles).
  • After 10 days and nearly 5,000 miles of intense competition, Andy and I won the 2 SOP truck/SUV class! We finished 10th overall of 36 teams. We also earned the Arctic and Go Farther awards for completing all optional extreme control routes successfully.
  • We used products from companies including Michelin, Rhino-Rack, MATRAX, Rugged Radios, and Factor 55.
  • Starting-line odometer: 509, finish-line odometer: 5,417
INEOS Grenadier has a rear access ladder and spare tire that was used during 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

After several hours of driving, Andy stretches as he fuels. We bought 25 tanks and three jerrycans worth of fuel during the rally (some tanks were partially full when refilled). Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

Giving The Grenadier A Go During The 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

The Alcan 5000 Rally was Andy’s first time driving an INEOS Grenadier. But it wasn’t my first time piloting one. I’ve driven early-stage diesel and petrol prototypes in France. Bright red emergency shut-off buttons adorned the dashes and 3-D switches created parts of the center stack displays. I later drove European-spec production models in Scotland during their global launch in January 2023. What would Andy’s thoughts be, knowing he’d driven a metric-ton of other 4x4s in his lifetime?

Andy Lilienthal, driver of the INEOS Grenadier.

Andy Lilienthal, driver of the INEOS Grenadier. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

“I really liked the solid axle suspension,” Andy said. “It did quite good on really bad roads at speed, which was surprising. A lot of solid axle vehicles get upset really easily on that kind of terrain. But on the way up on the Dalton [Highway to the Arctic Circle and Coldfoot, Alaska and back to Fairbanks], it went very well. The ride quality was quite decent for what it is.” The factory-supplied non-heated Recaro seats were comfortable, supportive, and didn’t leave us feeling fatigued. This rang true even after 10-12-plus hours and up to 650 miles of driving each day.

The INEOS Grenadier is outfitted with a turbocharged 3.0-liter BMW B58 inline straight-six powerplant. It’s specially tuned for the 4×4 and generates 281 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Andy was never left wanting more grunt, even when passing long haulers on slick surfaces. To him, it had plenty of power and adequate amounts of torque. “It rides well and does just fine.”

INEOS Grenadier has a rear rated vehicle recovery point.

The INEOS Grenadier sports front and rear rated vehicle recovery points. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

This five-door 4×4 had a 115-inch wheelbase, 10.4 inches of ground clearance, and a body-on-frame ladder chassis. Our Trialmaster trim included a RED winch as well as front and rear recovery points. It also sported a factory-optional Rhino-Rack Pioneer platform rack, rear access ladder, and rock sliders.

Aftermarket Accessories

The 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally took place in upper Washington, two Canadian provinces, two Canadian territories, and Alaska. Teams were required to run three-peak mountain snowflake tires for the competition. The INEOS Grenadier Trialmaster came with three-peak mountain snowflake-rated BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrains. However, we stepped it up a notch, and equipped our rig with Michelin X-Ice SNOW tires. This dedicated snow and winter tire incorporates two types of full-depth three-dimensional sipes. This design aided in traction on the snow and ice, and promoted long-lasting grip.

265/70 R17 Michelin X-Ice SNOW tire tread used during 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

We equipped our INEOS Grenadier with 265/70 R17 Michelin X-Ice SNOW tires for exceptional traction in the ice and snow. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

The Michelin X-Ice SNOW tires exceeded our expectations. Not only were they quiet as they weren’t studded, but they held their ground through every type of terrain. We tackled tarmac, slogged through snow-laden roads, and kept a straight-line path when things got icy. “The [Michelin X-Ice SNOW] tires were very responsive,” Andy explained, “They had excellent traction, and were quiet.”

Rhino-Rack Pioneer platform rack housing a double jerry can holder and four MAXTRAX recovery boards.

The Rhino-Rack Pioneer platform rack housed a double jerrycan holder and MAXTRAX recovery boards. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

Rhino-Rack platform rack-mounted accessories were also on board. A double jerrycan holder carried 10 total gallons of premium fuel and four MAXTRAX recovery boards stowed neatly up there, too. We also used Rhino-Rack aerial folding antenna brackets that housed two Rugged Radios antennas.

Snow piling up by the rear door handle.

Snow collected by the door of the Grenadier after hundreds of miles. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

For communications, we used Rugged Radios R1 handheld radios, which were instrumental in keeping connected with rally crews and our buddy vehicles. We also carried Factor 55 and additional vehicle recovery gear. Our heavy-duty Factor 55 canvas bag included the following items: a tow strap, kinetic rope, soft shackles, heavy-duty gloves, two WARN snatch blocks, and a winch line extension. We housed other necessities in a large Roam Adventure Co. case and three Front Runner Outfitters Wolf Pack Pro boxes.

Man filling up SUV with red jerry can during 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally

We used jerrycans to supplement over long stretches without fuel stations. The longest transit between a scheduled gas stop was 304 miles. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

The Grenadier Low-Down

The Grenadier easily started every morning, even during -20-degree Fahrenheit and colder temperatures. It ran without issue during our 10-day extreme-endurance stay. However, it threw two error codes during the first cold morning in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. They later resolved themselves. One was a check engine light for a system low voltage reading, which we cleared with an OBD-II reader. The other was a power steering error on the infotainment system. The power steering fluid must’ve been quite thick at start-up. However, a few slow trots around the parking lot and other unhurried movements before taking off solved these issues. Once the vehicle warmed up, they went away.

“The steering was something I came to appreciate,” Andy said. “I didn’t like it at first. It was a bit slow around town and didn’t come back to center very easily.” However, he said the slower steering was actually good on ice and snow at lower speeds, which was the majority of the roads we drove on during the rally. “You don’t notice [the steering] as much on the highway and it takes some getting used to it like any other vehicle.”

White navigation board for 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally is holding a route book, calculator, and pencils.

My navigation board held multiple things. Photo credit: Mercedes Lilienthal

The ride quality was truck-like and controlled. Though the front cockpit area didn’t have much room for storage (especially the glove box), the rear cargo area was boxy, big, and versatile. Two rear floor-mounted L-tracks gave us limitless opportunities to safely ratchet down gear. Side-mounted and rear door-jamb-mounted D-rings added to ratcheting prospects, keeping cargo secure. It’s a brilliant system, one we wish other manufacturers would implement.

The Newcomer 4×4 Wins

Overall, the 2024 INEOS Grenadier Trialmaster was a solid workhorse. It proved to be the perfect third teammate. After 10 days and nearly 5,000 miles of intense competition, Andy and I secured the 2024 2 SOP truck/SUV class win! We finished 10th overall of 26 teams. We also earned the Arctic and Go Farther awards for completing all optional extreme control routes successfully. It proves that podium finishes can start with a new auto manufacturer pushing their limits into unchartered territory.

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All photos by Mercedes Lilienthal.

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About the author

Mercedes Lilienthal

Mercedes is an avid off-roader, rallier, and gearhead who creates award-winning content for several automotive outlets, including The New York Times. Follow her adventures: Instagram @mercedes_lilienthal and Twitter @writerwithgrit.
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