North of the Arctic Circle in a Jeep Wrangler
Born in Edmonton, AB, Andrew Comrie-Picard has gone on to be one of Canada’s great competitive exports, racing and winning, cars and trucks across Canada and the US. We spoke to him after recently finishing the Alcan 5000, a 7500 km rally across the Great White North, a route that encompasses Grimshaw, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Fairbanks with a finish in Anchorage, AK - with a side expedition to Tuktoyaktuk, the northernmost community in Canada that is accessible by road, at roughly 560 km north of the Arctic circle. Most importantly, he and his team completed it a stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.
4WD: You’ve rallied in Canada, and around the world, what was unique about this race?
ACP: For one thing you’re in such a vast beautiful faraway area, and compared to everywhere else I’ve raced, you’re away from support. It’s a more vehicle dependent expedition. You really are forced to depend more on your vehicle, its parts and on yourself, more than anywhere else. Even in the Baja 1000, where we won our class, you have support rigs running around. This is quite a contrast to being in the Arctic where there is no support. At the end of the race, we did a four-day side trip to Tuktoyaktuk and there was no support what so ever. Quite a big difference. 4WD: Is this the first time you’ve rallied in a Jeep? ACP: Yes, this is the first time I’ve done anything competitively in a Jeep although I’ve done lots of wheeling in the past. I love the Jeep Wrangler in particular. 4WD: Why the Jeep? ACP: It’s different when you’re in a proper 4-wheel drive. For the type of terrain we went through, the deep snow and through the wilderness it’s by far the best vehicle.
4WD: If you did it again, what would you change? Any modifications to the Jeep?
ACP: Interestingly we only made a few modifications to the Jeep. We added auxiliary fuel tanks and we put on BFGoodrich’s AllTerrain
T/A® KO2s. They are great in the winter on the ice and snow. We did also add some Rigid auxiliary lights in the front. The Wrangler is so well engineered out of the box, especially the Rubicon, with the locking front and rear diffs and the disconnecting sway bar, we didn’t need to add anything else.
4WD: For this style of race, did you have to push the Jeep very hard, four-wheel drifts through the corners, that style of racing?
ACP: We did get a bit of sideways up near Yellowknife, and the Jeep Wrangler handles remarkably well. It’s not designed to be like a Mitsubishi Evo or Subaru STI but it’s not too far off, and we didn’t even touch its off-road capabilities. We just used it to make sure we always had traction on the ice roads and climbing around the snow near Tuktoyaktuk. 4WD: Tell me about your most memorable moments during the race?