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Scottish rally driver Finlay Retson overcame a difficult World Rally Championship debut last weekend to finish the gruelling Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4th -7th October) and secure fourth place in the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship Cadet Cup.

The Blairgowrie 18-year-old battled across 318 kilometres of special stages and 23 special tests to bring his Ford Fiesta R2 home in 41st overall against the best drivers in the world who all faced extremely inclement conditions on the four-day event. Rain, fog and rough conditions added an additional challenge for the debutante, but Retson and co-driver Tom Hynd managed to secure their first ever WRC finish to round off the season in style.

Retson would head to the Deeside based event with one eye on the Cadet Cup title after storming to victory on the Ulster Rally in August. Whilst it was an outside chance, he was still in with a shout of lifting the trophy at the end of the season thanks to two points scoring opportunities during the weekend.

Leg one would consist of the opening Super Special stage around the Tir Prince trotting track on Thursday evening as well as the full day in the forests on Friday. Saturday and Sunday offered the second chance to score and Retson would need to win both rounds to score enough points to emerge on top of the standings.

Retson’s first WRC event would get off to the best possible start, opening up a 1.4 second lead over his nearest rivals on the first stage of the event, in front of a sell out crowd on Thursday night. The rally proper would start on Friday and crews headed into the North Wales stages for eight special tests and a demanding day behind the wheel. Retson started confidently but by the time he returned for the mid-point service, he found himself six seconds down on the Cadet leader.

That would all change after the short halt and on the penultimate stage of the day Retson regained the lead, enabling him to end the leg with maximum points for his championship campaign.

Saturday would be the longest of the rally and it would once again be a strong start, extending his lead to remain on course to end the day out in front. But on the 14th stage of the rally the rear suspension failed, throwing the Fiesta into a ditch and ending their day on the spot. Sadly, this would also end any hopes of a Cadet win but the team managed to repair the rear beam and rejoin under Rally 2 on Sunday morning.

Just five stages would remain on the final day but Retson was now able to relax and enjoy the rally. So much so, he won each stage contested during the day to take third Cadet home and finishing his first ever World Championship event.

“It was as tough as I’d thought it would be and then some,” said Retson at the finish.

“I’ve always wanted to contest Wales Rally GB since I started in the sport but I don’t think anything really prepares you for what lies ahead. The conditions were so very difficult and it was a challenge to keep the car on the road at times so I’m really pleased with how I drove, especially on Friday when we won the Cadet round”.

Despite not taking the Cadet title, Reston was delighted with the result.

“Just to have completed the event is a huge thing for me and I always knew the Cadet title would be a long shot. The main thing was gaining the experience of the stages and a World Championship event and it certainly proved how tough they are. But I’m chuffed at my performance and I have to say a huge thanks to the team for getting me through it. I`m now looking forward to seeing what next year holds”.

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, Results Gym Forfar and Gary Buist Commercials.

Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography

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