Hans Stuck arctic finale

BMW Team PTG driver Hans Stuck of Austria has returned to civilization following the Fulda Extreme Arctic Challenge, which was staged Feb. 17 to 24 from Edmonton, Alberta, to the farthest reaches of the Canadian North. Stuck was the coach for the...

BMW Team PTG driver Hans Stuck of Austria has returned to civilization following the Fulda Extreme Arctic Challenge, which was staged Feb. 17 to 24 from Edmonton, Alberta, to the farthest reaches of the Canadian North. Stuck was the coach for the automobile competitions "... and the one with the load on his shoulders," he reported.

Eight teams of two were selected from 40,000 applicants to represent Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland and The Netherlands. The Austrian pair won first prize of two Dawson City gold nuggets, each valued at US$3000. But the Swiss duo were perhaps the big winners, collecting a trip to the 24 Hours of Nurburgring race in Germany with Stuck.

The teams competed in an indoor go-kart match, drove BMW M coupes in an ice race, demonstrated precision ice-driving skills in Jeep Cherokees, raced snowmobiles and used GPS coordinates to rally across the frozen North. They sprinted through a ski slalom event, tested their limits in an evening ice-climb, hiked up a mountain in snowshoes and skied down, raced dogsleds and taxed their muscles in a log-sawing contest. They navigated across the Arctic Circle in snowshoes and enjoyed a final competition building igloos in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, the most northerly point accessible by land in winter.

"The Italian guys built such a small igloo they couldn't get out afterwards," Stuck laughed.

He was happy that he and his wife Sylvia didn't have to sleep in an igloo -- or the tents that housed the competitors. With temperatures that dropped to minus-47 C (minus-62 F), outdoor conditions were decidedly chilly.

"It was an outstanding trip," Stuck enthused. "When you are so close to nature and when you reach the temperatures of minus-47, you learn to respect nature. We came out of the 'everything land' and we visited a couple of trappers again, like our friend Trapper Pete. These people appreciate so much more what they have. They don't go to Italian and French restaurants, they stay home and do their cooking there. It's such a totally different life, it brings us back to our feet and we think a little bit more about our life."

Stuck will return to racing duties in the American Le Mans Series this week, with the season opener set for March 4 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

-BMW-

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Series ALMS