Tasmanian rally duo set for Poatina Hillclimb return

Launceston couple Ben Manion and Aleshia Penney will make their return to this year’s Poatina Hillclimb on Sunday 6 December, in their self-built 1990 Nissan Skyline GTS-t tarmac rally car.

Promoted by Auto Corsa Group, the second annual running of the Poatina Hillclimb, formerly the Poatina Mountain Race, in 2015 will see an exciting extended course offered over a longer 10.2 kilometre stretch of Poatina Road in Northern Tasmania.

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

Ben and Aleshia will once again contest the hillclimb’s popular rally category against a field of two and four-wheel drive production racing cars including Mazdas, Porsches, Fords and other Nissans.

Last year’s Poatina event was the couple’s first competitive outing together. Impressively, they finished fourth in the rally category and were the fastest two-wheel drive car on the road.

“The first running of the event was cost effective and fun, and gave Aleshia her first experience as a navigator,” said Ben, 29, a senior IT consultant by day.

“The extended 2015 course is a real added bonus for competitors, so we were really keen to have another go at it – which will also give Aleshia more navigating experience.”

Ben bought the Skyline in 2009 as a rolling shell and, after building it up himself, started racing it in 2011. Since then he has contested a raft of tarmac rally and hillclimb events, including four Targa Tasmania events (winning Early Modern in 2013), two V8 supercar support races and a number of local hillclimbs and super sprints.

The Skyline’s engine is a standard Nissan 2-litre, 6-cylinder turbo which produces about 480-horsepower. Ben has updated its suspension to Penske shocks, and brakes to larger rotors and Brembo calipers. Its ABS unit has also been updated to a unit from a VY

As for Ben’s aspirations for this year’s event: “It would be nice to be the fastest two-wheel drive car again, but I think Adam Garwood’s Porsche Cup car is going to make that quite the challenge!”

The Poatina Hillclimb is facilitated through support from the Northern Midlands Council and the Government of Tasmania through the Department of State Growth.

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