Poatina Hillclimb mad dash for Hobart sign master

Tasmanian rally stalwart, Andrew Morris, is in a race against the clock to be a starter at this year’s second annual running of the Poatina Hillclimb on Sunday 6 December.

46-year-old Andrew, who owns and operates Signworks in Hobart, blew the engine on his 1982 Mazda RX-7 Group B Replica at the fourth round of the Tasmanian Rally Series just a few weeks ago.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Andrew. “We were travelling pretty well and it just stopped 22 kilometres into a 40 kilometre stage.”

Andrew usually has better luck at his gravel rally outings, last year winning the 2WD classic category in the state series.

Local mechanic Lew Bush, known in Tasmanian motorsport circles as ‘the rotary man’, is now madly re-building the RX-7’s 13B peripheral port rotary engine in his Acton workshop for next month’s second annual Poatina Hillclimb, in which Andrew will contest the Tarmac Rally 2WD category.

Semi-retired Lew is also competing in the event in a 1971 Mazda RX-2. Lew’s car has its own rich racing pedigree as a historic touring car.

Navigating for Andrew is Lew’s 24-year-old son, Matt Bush, who is a keen circuit racer himself. Together, Andrew and Matt have competed in five rounds of the Tasmanian Rally Series.

“After servicing for a mate at last year’s event and I could see that the Poatina Road is an incredible stretch of tarmac,” said Andrew. “I am really keen to give this event a go and lot of my mates are competing this year, so I really hope the car will be finished in time – although Lew assures me it will be.”

“Personally, I would really like to see more events like the Poatina Hillclimb here in Tasmania.”

Andrew has always been a keen rotary man. Prior to owning the RX-7 he too raced a Mazda RX-2, contesting Tasmanian circuit events and rounds of the ARC in the late 80s.


Andrew purchased the RX-7 about 11 years ago as a standard road car and has built it up over time into a gravel and tarmac rally car – a replica of the factory Mazda RX-7 that contested rounds of the World Rally Championship up until the mid 80s.

It has a 13B peripheral port rotary engine that, after the rebuild, is likely to produce around 300-horsepower at the rear wheels. It weighs around 1100kg.

It has MCA springs and dampers and adjustable four-link rear suspension, front brakes from a Series 5 RX-7 and rears courtesy of a Nissan Skyline.


The second Poatina Hillclimb will be held on Sunday 6 December 2015.

This year it will run over an extended 10.2 kilometre section of the iconic Poatina Road, which has an elevation gain of 580 metres, snaking up Mount Blackwood from Norfolk Plains to the Central Plateau in Northern Tasmania.

Each entrant will compete six times over the technical long course hillclimb, covering 61 kilometres in a single day.

Poatina Village will once again play host to the event’s start and finish celebrations and vehicle display. Locals are encouraged to get amongst the action and rub shoulders with the entrants.

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