Gary Webb is no stranger to the Arctic, having driven a BMW X3 to victory in the 2004 Alcan Winter Rally. But there’s more challenge in tackling the extremes of winter weather in a two-wheel-drive car, so for the 2012 edition of the rugged Seattle-to-Anchorage route, Webb opted for a Mini Clubman, hoping to win the two-wheel-drive class and finish high in the overall rankings.
Was Number One high enough?
With navigator Marc Goldfarb at the switches of an Alfa Elite rally computer, Webb and the sturdy little Clubman quickly established themselves as the team to beat, with good scores on the opening day’s time-speed-distance sections, where one second early or late at a hidden timing control means another penalty point. But the Alcan is a rally of attrition; indeed, high on the Dempster Highway in the Northwest Territory, the entire field was turned back by encroaching storms. Covered by wind-driven drifts, the road was closed just south of the Arctic Circle.
In addition, the Alcan Winter Rally includes ice-racing competition, where all-wheel-drive cars usually have a distinct advantage. However, in Valdez, Alaska, the ice-racing section finally ended a dramatic Mini-versus-Subaru showdown: With terminal engine failure, the Subie fell out of the rally, and Webb and Goldfarb drove the tough little Clubman to their well-earned victory—the first-ever overall win for a two-wheel-drive car in the daunting Alcan Winter Rally.—Satch CarlsonBack to News