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Nineteen-year-old Scottish rally driver Finlay Retson will aim to become Junior British Rally Champion in 2020 has he embarks on his second season in the series, starting with this weekend’s Cambrian Rally in North Wales (8th February).

The Blairgowrie youngster will return to the ultra-competitive series after enduring a season of “ups and downs” in 2019 with strong performances and podiums mixed with championship-deciding incidents. He narrowly missed out on securing a €60,000 prize fund towards a Junior World Rally Championship campaign with M-Sport and Pirelli.

He will be one of only a handful of crews returning to the series this year in a bid to go one better and secure the biggest prize in UK rallying, teaming up with new co-driver Rhys Stoneman for his career-defining campaign.

Retson has enjoyed success at all levels of the sport that he has participated in, from the Scottish Junior series for 14-17-year-olds, the BTRDA Gravel Championship and the Fiesta ST Trophy, before heading into the Junior BRC feeder series, the Cadet Cup.

In 2019 Retson was one of the first drivers in the UK to acquire the latest specification M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2 and contested the Junior BRC for the first time. Despite sighting his campaign as a “learning season”, three solid finishes came in the first half of the season, with a Pirelli Rally podium a highlight. Non-finishes in Ypres and Ulster blighted the middle half of his campaign before a final round podium brought him within arm’s length of the M-Sport Fiesta honours.

Now, in a shift to the format, the Junior BRC will revert to a single make formula with the Fiesta becoming the model of choice for aspiring youngsters aiming for the €60,000 prize fund and the chance to step onto the world’s stage. Retson knows that this season will be tougher than ever.

“It’s like a reset switch has been pressed in the championship and with everyone driving identical machinery, it really does mean it’s down to the crew in the car to get the results now,” he says.

“We knew at the beginning of last year that the Junior BRC would take this format and so we committed to a three-year plan which would see 2019 count as my learning year. Truthfully, I learnt so much about the car and myself. Some of that the hard way but it’s certainly made me stronger for the year ahead.”

It’s not been an easy winter for the rapid youngster. Retson will run his M-Sport Fiesta R2T sporting his 2019 sponsors and car livery during the first round whilst the team search for the required support to continue their 2020 campaign. He welcomes back DJR Services Heavy Haulage and Vending by JSR with the additional support of new sponsor J Gas Ltd to kick start the new season.

“It’s been really tough to raise the budget to compete this year and we have spent a lot of time working on getting backing to be there. We have just about made the cut to contest the opening round so at the moment we will be taking each rally as it comes”.

The Cambrian Rally kicks off the season in Llandudno and offers a short, sharp blast through the North Wales forests with over 43 miles of treacherous world-famous stages on offer. Retson will be calling on all his gravel experience and is aiming for a good start to his campaign.

“We really don’t know where the pace will be on the first round and normally, we would see where we are after the first loop and make a plan. But the event is so short it’s like a sprint and that means I think we are going to have to try and find the speed from the first stage. Ultimately a podium is what we are aiming for as I bed back in and get used to Rhys [Stoneman] in the car. After last year, I know that every single point counts.”

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

Image Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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