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Finlay Retson was able to start last weekend’s Today’s Ulster Rally (17th August) after working overtime to ready his Ford Fiesta R2 after a sizeable roll at June’s Ypres Rally, only to crash out on the final loop of the Northern Ireland event after a pacenote error.

Retson, nineteen from Blairgowrie in Scotland faced a race against time to ready the Fiesta after getting the go-ahead from the specialist insurance company, M-Sport in Poland and his loyal backers, to re-shell the M-Sport Fiesta R2 MK8 with just over a week to go until the team would need to leave for the Newry based event.

Working tirelessly, they managed to ready the new car with just hours to spare and crossed the Irish Sea to tackle the fifth and penultimate round of the Junior British Rally Championship in which Retson was battling to stay in the hunt for a chance to bag 60,000 Euros towards a 2020 campaign in the Junior World Rally Championship thanks to M-Sport and Pirelli.

Running as high as fourth place, Retson and co-driver Richard Crozier were on course to scoop valuable points for their efforts, but on the fifth of nine special stages, a late pacenote call from Crozier sent the Fiesta into a bank at high speed and into instant retirement. Their involvement in the final round in their home country of Scotland, is now, once again in doubt.

The Watermans and JSR Services Blairgowrie backed ace enjoyed a positive start to the season, despite driving the newly introduced Fiesta R2 for the very first time in February. A JBRC podium in Carlisle was a highlight, and his consistent run of form saw him well in contention to scoop one of the biggest prizes in rallying

But a sizeable roll in Belgium meant that a result in Ulster would be more important than ever and despite heading to the narrow, damp and bumpy lanes for the first time, Retson was in a buoyant mood.

Emerging from the open stage, he was overjoyed to have such a great feeling in the car.

“I have to say a huge thanks to the team and all my backers for getting us back on the road and to the start of this rally,” he said. “The car feels fantastic and just as it did the day we picked it up from M-Sport and I`m loving being back behind the wheel”.

Fourth fastest and just two seconds away from the Ypres Rally winner was a positive start to his return to the sport and two further solid times over the remainder of the loop further cemented his position.

With three loops of three stages, the Ulster Rally offered 93 miles of flat out driving and as the conditions improved, Retson became more confident, once again setting some impressive times and begin to knock on the door of another podium.

But on the fifth stage at high speed, a pacenote call from the other side of the car came much later than was required and Retson simply couldn’t stop the car in time, sending it barrelling into a field and out of the rally.

Retson was understandably devastated.

“Not really sure how this feels at the moment,” said Retson, “I really wanted to repay my team and supporters for their hard work over the last few weeks with another good result”.

“Everything felt perfect in the car, we were at a really solid pace and not taking risks. I knew what I needed to do, and it was all going to plan but I think Rich [Crozier] just got caught out by the speed we were going and the call came too late to make the turn. To be fair to him it’s the first time that’s happened and you know’, we win as a team and lose as a team so it’s just part of rallying sometimes. It’s such a shame as I knew we would have bagged a great result”.

The team has already begun work to ready the car for the next round.

“The Fiesta prize is not out of reach, but we are not quite as close as we would have liked. We can’t give up and we wont. The guys have it all to do if we are to make it to the Galloway Hills but they know what they are doing. Richard and I will need to knuckle down and do the very best we can in Scotland. It’s not over yet”.

The final round of the Junior British Rally Championship takes place on 14th September in Dalbeattie as the series returns to the gravel in the Dumfries and Galloway forests.

Retson is supported by JSR Services – Blairgowrie Ltd, DJR Services, Watermans Legal, G S Robertson Ltd, Kevin Donachie Electricians, West Ranga Properties, Gray & Adams Ltd, Robert Morton Joiners & Contractors, Andrew Wood Motorsport, Rallytravel.com, Castrol, Sharp Transport and Results Gym Forfar.

Image Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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