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Scottish rally driver Finlay Retson ensured his debut behind the wheel of a brand new M-Sport Fiesta R2 was a successful one, by finishing the opening round of the Junior British Rally Championship as first Ford home.

Retson, 18 from Blairgowrie and co-driver Tom Hynd, guided their newly built machine to sixth overall in the JBRC category at the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on Saturday (16 th February) and in the process, became the highest placed Junior Ford driver on the event.

His impressive run ensures he is in the running for a chance to scoop a prize fund worth 60,000 Euros towards a 2020 campaign in the Junior World Rally Championship thanks to M-Sport Poland and Pirelli.

After a season in the BRC Cadet Cup, the young charger would make the leap into the Junior series in 2019, acquiring the latest specification Ford Fiesta just days before the season opener in North Wales was due to begin. Backed by Watermans Solicitors, Retson would need to put all his skills to good use having only managed a short test in the car before heading to the Llandudno rally base.

Ten stages and 52 miles of competitive driving lay head, packed into a single day which would take in forests made famous by Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB. Chosen for their technical and difficult nature, the stages would be a tough test for the BRC crews who would endure a long day behind the wheel and three stages under the cover of darkness providing a sting in the tail on the very first round.

Despite having never driven the car in anger before, Retson threw down the gauntlet from the opening stage of the day and set a blistering time across the Clocaenog test to go fourth fastest, beating previous Junior BRC winners in the process. However, his hard work would be undone in the second stage after an overshoot took the front bumper off the Fiesta, dropping Retson down to eighth.

He would end the opening loop third Fiesta and with his sights on points in the championship rather than outright podiums, the decision was made to try and moderate the pace throughout the remainder of the day. Still learning the characteristics of the new car, Retson knuckled down and did his best to keep out of trouble across the slippery and rocky stages in North Wales.

His persistence was rewarded and as night fell in the forests, his rivals would hit trouble. A consistent and mature drive over the closing stages saw Retson jump from eighth Junior to sixth on the final stage and in the process, secure the honours of being first Fiesta home on his debut in the car.

Retson was delighted at the result.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to finish this rally let alone take top Fiesta,” he said.

“It really is a big moment for me after the disappointment of last season, everyone I know, my sponsors, family and backers have all come together to make this possible. I’m really indebted to them for this result.

Its been a manic few weeks collecting the car from Poland and bringing it home, getting it ready for the rally, let alone trying to prepare myself for the event. It’s such a fantastic car to drive and although it’s very different to my old Fiesta, I didn’t take me long to get used to it and I guess that showed in my first stage time.”

Retson believes his second stage trip into the scenery focused him for the remainder of the day.

“It really woke me up and made me realise although it’s not the longest rally of the season I`m not going to win anything by spending time in the ditches. So we made a plan to keep consistent throughout the remainder of the day and that was rewarded with the result. What a perfect way to start the season”.

Retson will now begin preparing for the second round of the British Rally Championship which takes a trip to Ireland for the West Cork Rally in March.

Retson is supported by DJR Services, JSR Services – Blairgowrie Ltd, G S Robertson Ltd, Kevin Donachie Electricians, West Ranga Properties, Robert Morton Joiners & Contractors, Vital Equipment Limited, Andrew Wood Motorsport, The Campervan Company, Watermans Solicitors, Rally Travel and Results Gym Forfar.

Image Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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