Round four of Unior Downhill Cup took place at Soriška planina last weekend where local fans celebrated the first elite victory for Rudi Pintar of Sinter Brakes Team.
Luka Berginc (Blackthorn) placed second in the final run and Matic Kokelj (Wolf Racing Team) third. Miha Ivančič (ŠKTD Avče) followed in 4th and Marco Scheriau (ASD 360 MTB) in 5th.
In women’s duel Katarina Primožič (BATT) was faster than Naja Stipanič (Blackthorn). Marko Niemiz (Sinter Brakes Team) was the faster junior rider of the day with third final run time overall, his teammate Žan Pirš finished second and Gašper Jurečič (Rajd Ljubljana) third. Nace Kokelj (Wolf Racing Team) won the U17 final, Val Celestina (Blackthorn) won in his first ever U15 race, Boštjan Volf (Wolf Racing Team) won the masters category, Matic Kokl (MTB klub Kranj) the amateur and Blaž Eržen the hobby category final.
Saturday afternoon’s storms happened to avoid Soriška planina and by the time of Sunday’s final run the 1650m track from top of the small ski resort was completely dry, just as most of the riders wished for on the heavily rooted track.
Pintar who is in his second elite season and comes from the nearby village of Sorica, wore the number 1 plate for the first time in his career. He started the weekend in second place overall but the series leader Jure Žabjek missed the race since he already took off for the World Championships along with Monika Hrastnik and junior rider Žak Gomilšček.
Rudi already set the fastest time in the semi-final run, followed by Kokelj who did not have any results yet in his first elite season. Berginc was third fastest but was still treated as the favourite a week after his iXS European Cup win in Czech Republic and also his two previous wins on this track in 2016 and 2017. Berginc had an excellent final run and took the lead with 2:43,25. He kept the hot seat even after Kokelj’s run. Then Pintar put together another superb run in front of his home crowd, improved his semi-final time by over 5 seconds and took his first elite victory.
“This morning I did not expect the track to be so slippery. It dries fast and the moist dirt still provides good grip, but some roots were still slippery. But it was all dry for the final and I was able to go fast,” Rudi described the conditions for his final run. Then he added this on his season so far where he placed 4th, 2nd and 5th in the Unior DH Cup: “I had a good home season but always ran into some problems at a higher level – I was either not concentrating enough or I had numb hands or some mechanical issues… At least I did well at home now.”
Taking maximum points this weekend Pintar got close to Žabjek for the overall before the final race. They are 94 points apart, the semi-final winners takes 100 and winner in the final 200 points so Žabjek can’t afford any mistakes. Berginc stays in third. It will be an exciting final in junior men since Niemiz passed Gomilšček.
The hosts AlpVenture Soriška planina and MTB Železniki provided an excellent weekend on their home mountain. Unior Downhill Cup end with the final race in Bike park Cerkno on September 15.
Photos by Urban Cerjak/Monster Energy