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Finlay Retson secured the best result of his career at Saturday’s Cambrian Rally (8th February), finishing in second place at the opening round of the Junior British Rally Championship.

The 19-year-old ace from Blairgowrie enjoyed the best possible start to his 2020 campaign, battling through tricky conditions to set two fastest times and even lead the category at one point on his way to a runner up position across the world-famous North Wales stages in his Ford Fiesta R2.

Retson, joined for the first time by Welshman Rhys Stoneman in the co-driver’s seat, would return to the new-look Junior British rally Championship in 2020. The series shifts to a single make formula this season with each crew piloting a new specification M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2, vying not only for the coveted Junior BRC title but also for €60,000 prize fund towards a Junior World Rally Championship campaign with M-Sport and Pirelli in 2021.

The Scottish driver endured a mixed season in 2019 as he learned his new Fiesta with inspirational performances mixed with non-scores. He narrowly missed out on the Fiesta Trophy top tier and has spent most of the off-season working to acquire budget to compete in the new-look championship.

Despite a shortfall, Retson made the decision to head to the season opener and lay down his marker on the championship leaderboard. A short pre-season test almost blighted his hopes before the season got underway however.

A blown turbo in the Fiesta caused a nervous few hours within sight of the event as the team replaced the unit. Thankfully, it was nothing more sinister and the new duo manged to acclimatise to their surroundings ahead of the seven-stage and 43 mile event.

With the Junior BRC line up as unpredictable as ever, Retson would be aiming to balance a solid performance with raw pace during the course of the day. Whilst a finish was the main priority for the youngster, he would be keen to see what improvements a season behind the wheel of the Ford would mean to his stage times in 2020.

Indeed, Retson stunned the opposition on the opening test of the rally, opening his account with second fastest Junior BRC crew, just 0.2sec slower than the leader and putting himself in a prime position for the rest of the day.

In the heart of the stages used on Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales rally GB, Retson once again stormed to second-fastest time on the second test to take the lead of the Junior BRC heading into the longest stage of the event, the 11-mile Penmachno stage.

A more conservative approach meant he would lose the lead, but nevertheless he would remain a comfortable second place heading into the unique Great Orme stage around the cliff-side road in Llandudno. The notorious Tarmac test didn’t phase Retson, securing his maiden fastest Junior BRC stage time of his career across the Llandudno mountain road, showing a glimmer of hope for a comeback drive, bolstered by yet another on the second pass of Crafnant after service.

However, a mature approach to the final two stages ensured that he could secure the best result of his career, to spray the champagne back in Llandudno in second place.

“It really is a dream start to the season and I`m so pleased to be able to make it back after all the hard work the team have put in to even get us to the start this weekend,” he said at the finish.

“It really does make it all worthwhile when you put everything you have into competing and you come away with a result like that, it’s just unbeatable and I can’t thank everyone enough for helping us to get here”.

Retson was delighted with his pace during the weekend.

“I felt comfortable in the car during the test but of course it’s a new partnership with Rhys so that could have taken some time to bed in, but it clicked from the very first stage. To set those fastest times is a really positive sign for the rest of the season and I really hope we can raise the budget to be there.”

The next round of the season see’s a shift of surface as crews head across the Irish Sea to Ireland for the West Cork Rally in March.

Retson is supported by JSR Services – Blairgowrie Ltd, DJR Services, J.Gas Ltd, Watermans Legal, G S Robertson Ltd, Kevin Donachie Electricians and Plas Y Rhosyn Wedding Venue.

Image Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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