Taking on North America’s longest rally in a Quattro

A Craigslist-sourced Audi 4000CS took on the 5000-mile Alcan Summer Rally and succeeded

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A competitive adventure that rewards experience, good judgment, consistency, reliability and resourcefulness. A level playing field where private and factory teams compete on even terms.

Sounds like quite the recipe, doesn’t it?

Welcome to the Alcan 5000 Summer Rally. The above is what the event describes itself as on its website, but in reality, this is just a small depiction of the rally’s majestic and challenging nature.

Just ask Kimberley and Erin Chovanak, who took the rally on for the very first time this year.

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The Alcan 5000 has run biennially since 1984 (with both a summer and winter edition) and is a time-speed-endurance (TSD) event. That means, unlike a stage rally, it isn’t necessarily the fastest crew against the clock that wins, but instead the pairing that displays the most precision traveling along designated stretches of public road as close to a designated speed as possible.

At a shave over 5000 miles long (as the name suggests), this is the largest TSD rally in all of North America, beginning this year in Seattle before continuing north into Canada and British Columbia, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and finishing in Alberta.

Twenty-four cars and 17 motorbikes took on this epic (and utterly scenic) voyage, and Kimberley and Erin Chovanak were among them – successfully completing the grueling 10-day event in their Audi 4000 Quattro.

That didn’t hold us back, as we ran over a fallen tree at 75mph due to mistaking it as a shadow… Kimberley Chovanak

Supported by DirtFish Women in Motorsport, the pair absolutely smashed it.

“The Summer Alcan is just an amazing TSD rally,” Kimberley tells DirtFish.

“There is so much emphasis on working together with other ‘buddy’ teams to get the best score against the clock. Our Quattro 4000CS ran near perfect, though there were many points of concern that thankfully didn’t get much worse.

“Our right strut was loose to start with, so many of the gravel roads were a major weak spot since potholes were pretty common and we’d bottom out pretty often. That didn’t hold us back, as we ran over a fallen tree at 75mph due to mistaking it as a shadow… the car handled much better than I had originally thought!

“Driving along for such long transits gave a lot of time to second guess whether the car would make it or not.

“Before I’d left for the Alcan, I told my friends I would probably know whether the car would make it within the first three days of driving since that would be the time for any big failures to reveal themselves, but after day four I told them I would know by day 10 whether the Audi was Alcan-prepared or not.

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“The biggest sense of accomplishment I got from completing the Alcan 5000 was building trust and familiarity in the car. I got my Audi off Craigslist back in April 2022 and only knew I’d made it onto the entry list for the event two months prior to the start.

“It was very stressful to have a growing list of things I wanted to do to the car in preparation. Limiting it down to the essentials and putting my trust into the car and just saying ‘alright, we’re doing this’ was the hardest part, but a feeling I’ve never really experienced with anything else I’ve done before.

“But another brilliant part of the rally was the people who we traveled the 5010 miles with. Everyone came from different backgrounds and we all had but one common goal of completing the Alcan.

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“The camaraderie showed itself true in the dining halls, early morning starts, and along roadsides of different highways. People were always looking out for each other, sharing road-trip snacks, and sending photos and footage around that they’d gotten from all the other teams’ vehicles.”

Kimberley enjoyed it so much that she’s already re-entered the rally in 2024. We salute you, and all of your fellow competitors, for showing amazing spirit and resilience to complete this amazing challenge.

Rally on!

Words:Luke Barry, Josie Rimmer