Third round of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill World Cup is behind us and we have a new top result – this time thanks to Jure Žabjek, who finished in 10th in Leogang. He was even better in the qualifications – 5th!
Jure’s result is a cherry on top of the big and sweet cake called World Cup Leogang, as all of our riders did very good and showed great speed… it just didn’t work out as planned for everyone this time around. But let’s first look at the qualifications.
We had four riders in Leogang as Keegan Wright decided to do some DH racing and get on the pace ahead of the upcoming Crankworx festival. It would be a unique record if all four of them qualified for the finals, but Keegan decided not to race on the end and rather focus on everything that is ahead of him next week, and those races are now really more important for him right now. So we had Dakotah, Jure and Kirk on the start of the qualification run, and all of them delivered! Kirk was 55th – some intense moments there, but all good on the end. Dak had 13th time of the day – decent, but he of course aims to single digit results. Jure made the big splash with 5th time of the day, his best ever in the qualies.
“I’m extremely happy with my result from the qualifications. I felt good on the track from the first minute. I just need to do one more very good run and I think I can do a good result tomorrow as well,” said Jure on Saturday afternoon.
Last day of racing in Austrian Alps was another one for the postcards. Blue sky, hot sun, great fans and beautiful scenery. However postcards don’t show the dusty and slippery DH track, which today represented the biggest danger.
Kirk McDowall was our first man of the start, among the first in the finals. He did good – much better than a day before and got to stay in the hot seat for a while. On the end his time was fast enough for 37th place.
“The weekend was starting on a slow note for me, I was struggling to find grip here and struggling to be able to push. But I made some changes on the bike for Sunday after qualifying and was able to take a good chunk of time from my Saturday time. I’m pretty stoked with my time and I’m building up for the next races.” – Kirk McDowall
As it was getting hotter in Leogang, so it was getting tighter on the leaderboard and more intense on the top of the mountain. Dakotah was fast all year long and of course we all expected an uncompromised attack. So it happened, but this time he crossed the line and felt the dust.
Dakotah Norton said this after he cooled down in the finish area: “I got a little excited off the start. I never had really good first split, so I have been working really hard at home and at the races to just bring it from the moment that the race starts and bring the intensity. You’re not going to be with top guys if you don’t. Without risk there is no reward and unfortunately I pushed over the line. I had a lot of great races in the row, I know I’m riding well. My splits from two down showed that I had speed this weekend and was going for a good result. I put it what I had out there and unfortunately I went over the line a little bit this week. Excited to get back home and do more work before Andorra.”
Dakotah was 51st on the end.
Our last rider on the start was Jure Žabjek and it was on him to show that he can ride under pressure and challenge the best riders in the world. His run wasn’t perfect, but there were sections where he rode like a king and managed to cut two seconds from his qualifications time. He took 10th, which matches his best ever result to date. He was 10th in Lenzerheide ’17, but we can easily say that the competition is much stronger today and it’s way harder to get there.
“Start of my final run was good, except for the first off-camber section where I unclipped my pedal and lost a little bit of time. Middle part was all good, but then another small mistake happened towards the bottom. I’m very happy with my run, as the track was very slippery and hardly impossible to do a perfect run. I was among the last on the top of the mountain, there were just a few of us left and everything happens with bigger gaps. Spectators were already at the bottom part of the track, so it was only then when I felt the real atmosphere. It wasn’t like Maribor, but still very nice.” – Jure Žabjek
Excellent start of the season
We’re off to a break before we go racing in Andorra, but we can already draw a line after first three races. Overall Dakotah and Jure are sitting in 16th and 17th place and both are protected for the next round. Next to that we have two Top-10 results (Dak in Maribor, Jure in Leogang) and bunch of excellent results from qualifications and finals show that we’re on the right path and that even better results are on the way!
Jure Žabjek – 10th in finals, 5th in qualifications (live on Red Bull TV)
Kirk McDowall – 37th in the finals, 55th in the qualifications
Dakotah Norton – 51st in the finals (with a crash), 13th in the qualifications (live on Red Bull TV)
Keegan Wright – DNS (watch out for him next week on Crankworx!)
Photos by Klemen Humar & Dave Trumpore