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Blairgowrie rally driver Finlay Retson returned a stunning drive in last weekend’s Ulster Rally (17/18 August) to win the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship Cadet Cup category by over three minutes from his nearest rival

Retson and co-driver Tom Hynd took the fastest feeder-series time on every one of the event’s 11 stages a to take the much-needed Cadet win. In doing so, the 18-year-old Ford Fiesta R2 driver has ensured his aspirations for the title are now firmly back on track.

In only his third ever British Championship event, Retson would endure the pressure of needing to finish the Antrim based event on the top step of the podium if he were to stand any chance of claiming the Cadet title at the end of the season. With two rounds of the series down, he was unable to claim a single point due to mechanical woes and his BRC campaign would be decided in Northern Ireland.

Treacherous, rain-soaked conditions greeted the crews on Friday morning for Shakedown which offered Retson the opportunity to dial-in to the closed-public roads he would be contesting later that day. Just a few months previously, the pre-event test session at the Ypres Rally would be the scene of a catastrophic crash for the youngster and he was eager to ensure this outing would go without a hitch.

Any memories of his Belgian off were banished on the very first stage, obliterating his opponents by going 1m 3secs faster than his nearest rival. A failed gear selector on the second test showed no sign of hampering progress and the offending item was fixed in service by the team.

Despite the significant standing water and mud-strewn roads, Retson showed no sign of letting up on the remaining stages of the day. His performance throughout the opening loop was impeccable, ending Friday with a two-minute lead.

A drier start to the second leg would mean the conditions were now more akin to that of Retson’s last outing in Belgium, but the Northern Irish roads would hold their own, unique features and crews would need to summon all their skills to stay out of trouble on the bumpy asphalt.

Retson picked up where he left off on Friday, going eight quicker on the opening test of the day to increase his lead further still. He would have been forgiven for backing off over the closing stages to preserve his lead in the Cadet category but instead, elected to keep the pace he had enjoyed all rally long. Setting five more fastest stage times, he crossed the Antrim ceremonial finish ramp with an impressive inaugural BRC Cadet victory.

“Everything was just perfect this weekend and I knew from the shakedown stage on Friday morning that all being well, this would be the turning point of the season for me,” said a jubilant Retson at the ramp.

“To take my first Cadet win when the pressure was on feels totally amazing. I just did my own thing, didn’t take any risks and kept it smooth. That was very much the right approach as well when you look at the stage times, I certainly didn’t expect to win by that margin”.

Retson didn’t let the pressure get to him despite needing a win to keep his title hopes alive.

“We had a few niggles with the car which were similar to the Ypres Rally issue but we managed to get them sorted and once I’d completed the first handful of stages, I knew my head and the car were in the right place. I didn’t think about the result too much, I knew what we needed to do and got on with it. We still have an outside chance at the title so we really need to continue this form to the Isle of Man next month, but I feel very ready for that challenge after this weekend”.

Retson now sits in fourth place in the Cadet BRC and will need to win each of the remaining rounds to stand a chance of lifting the title. The next round of the series heads to the Rally Isle of Man in September.

Retson is supported by DJR Services, JSR Services – Blairgowrie Ltd, G S Robertson Ltd, LHS Logistics, JoAgri Ltd, Kevin Donachie Electricians, West Ranga Properties, Robert Morton Joiners & Contractors, Vital Equipment Limited, Andrew Wood Motorsport, CSP Abnormal Load Escorting, GLD Group, The Binn Group and Results Gym Forfar.

Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography

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