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Eighteen-year-old Blairgowrie rally driver Finlay Retson secured the best result of his short career last weekend, by taking third place in the Junior British Rally Championship at a gruelling Pirelli International Rally (27th April).

Retson returned a stellar performance on the notorious gravel of the Kielder Forest to bring his Watermans backed M-Sport Ford Fiesta home on the podium of the hotly contested series.

His impressive result means he moves to fourth place and first Junior Ford Fiesta in the championship standings and heads into the final three rounds of the season in a prime position to scoop a 60,000 Euros prize fund towards a 2020 campaign in the Junior World Rally Championship, thanks to M-Sport and Pirelli.

Retson and co-driver Richard Crozier would head to the Carlisle based event with the aim of bettering Retson’s sixth place on both the Cambrian and West Cork Rally which formed the opening two rounds of the season. The switch back to gravel would enable Retson to feel a little more settled having had more mileage on the surface than the asphalt of the Irish lanes.

However, Kielder is renowned the world over for its unforgiving ditches and high-speed sections which are ready and waiting to catch out the unwary. With one eye on the M-sport prize at the end of the season, the youngster was eager to get his rally off to a good start.

Just six stages and sixty competitive miles would be on offer meaning the event would be more of a sprint than a marathon and ultimately, every stage would be vital in securing a result. Retson opened his account with fifth fastest Junior on the opening eight-mile blast but showed his hand on the longer second test, taking his first top three time of the season to move him up to fourth by the first service of the day.

Conditions in the largest man-made forest in Europe were mixed, with the sunshine contrasting with torrential rain and even hail thrown in as an additional hazard for the crews. The rough and rocky surface would catch out many during the day, but Retson ensured his drive was measured as the conditions worsened.

Another third fastest time on `The Forks’ test showed Retson wasn’t phased and as each mile passed, he grew more confident in the 2019 specification M-Sport Ford. He would enter the final stage of the rally with a three-second deficit to third and would need to muster all his knowledge and skills learnt over the years if he was to vault himself into a podium spot.

Retson delivered. The Roughside stage was just 7.6 miles in length but the Scottish ace blasted his Fiesta to his maiden second fastest Junior BRC stage time to move into third place on the final stage of the rally.

An emotional Retson was delighted to take his maiden Junior BRC podium

“This moment is everything that I and the team have been working towards for the past few years,” he said at the ceremonial finish celebrations.

“My pace has improved so much since the first rally of the season and I feel more comfortable in the Fiesta with each passing mile. That really showed today and to be setting some top times against guys that have been in their cars and doing the JBRC for several years is very encouraging. I’m delighted at being on the podium and I have to say a huge thanks to all my supporters, sponsors and team for having faith in me to deliver this result for them”.

Retson is now firmly in the lead of the race to bag the M-Sport and Pirelli prize fund.

“We did everything we could to secure a new Fiesta this season and the car is amazing to drive. There is so much more to come from me in it too, we haven’t been taking too many risks and trying to manage our pace, so being first Fiesta at this stage of the season is a real confidence boost. There is a long way to go, but I`m very excited for the rest of the season”.

The Junior British Rally Championship will now make its second trip overseas as it heads to the Renties Ypres Rally in Belgium at the end of June.

Retson is supported by DJR Services, Watermans Legal, 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, Rallytravel.com, Sharp Transport and Results Gym Forfar.

Image Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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