Salona DH: Slippery Dalmatian downhill party

Three weeks after the iXS European Downhill Cup race on the island of Lošinj opened the downhill racing season in the region it was time to start the Unior Downhill Cup.

This year the series is again more than just Slovenian national series since it consists of two events in Slovenia and two in Croatia.

The first event of the series was Salona DH, held in Solin just out of Split, Croatia’s second largest city situated on the Dalmatian coast. The event put on by the local Coast Riders club was also the Croatian National Championships race.

Let’s continue with the Lošinj and Solin comparison: it would be a long 450 km drive up the islands and down the coast to get from Lošinj to Solin. The track of Salona DH is very different from the World Cup track on Lošinj – it’s longer, steeper and with more dirt. Very demanding, but in a different way than the »Island of Brutality« track.

The track received some rain before Sunday’s morning practice and it was slowly drying through seeding run all the way to the afternoon final yet some sections remained slippery.

Slovenian on top

jure žabjek
Jure Žabjek

In the final run Jure Žabjek of Unior – Sinter Factory Racing set the fastest time of 2 minutes and 54 seconds, improving his seeding run time by just over 5 seconds.

žak gomilšček
Žak Gomilšček

His teammate Žak Gomilšek was the only other rider with a time under 3 minutes and another Slovenian Jan Cimperman finished third 6.4 seconds slower than Žabjek.

jan cimperman
Jan Cimperman

Ivan Bašić of the local Coast Riders team regained the Croatian National Championship title with 4th place in men’s elite category.

ivan bašić
Ivan Bašić

In junior men’s category Croatian Tin Čuljević (BBK Mirakul) took the win, thus taking the Junior National title.

Frane Medić, the main favourite in junior category and winner at Lošinj, crashed hard right at the end of his seeding run and even if not injured didn’t start in the final run.

Slovenian Maj Babačič (Calcit Bike Team) was the fastest U17 rider and the incredible Slovenian Ažbe Kalinšek from Unior – Sinter development team Bikehanic – 20 Chocolate won the U15 category with sixth time overall, faster than U17 and U19 junior winners!

The former Croatian elite champ Berislav Topol won the men’s masters category. The final results list is not very long since a number of riders dropped out of the race between Friday’s track walk and Sunday’s final.

Words from the fastest

Jure Žabjek (Unior – Sinter Factory Racing), winner elite men

»Yes, the track was wet Sunday morning and quite slippery. I mostly dried out for the final but you still needed to take it really easy in some sections. But I was positively surprised by the track, it’s good to see a new track in the series!«

Ažbe Kalinšek (Bikehanic – 20 Chocolate), winner junior/U15 men

»The track was a nice surprise for me as well. It is technically demanding and steep. On Saturday I concentrated on the setup on my new bike. I did some mistakes in Sunday’s final but it was enough for 6th overall and a win among junior men. I’m really happy with my first race on a downhill bike.«

Next: Soriška planina, Slovenia

Round two follows on July 3rd at Soriška planina, Slovenia, a classic stop of the series. Luka Berginc, the three time winner there and also winner of 2022 DH Lošinj European Cup race, will be back after sitting out the Salona DH. From Mediterranean to the very different Alpine setting. See you there! Details coming up here.

Photos by Hrvoje Perković @hrcy_shark

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