Dan Lamb from MotoXaddicts caught up with American Zach Osborne last weekend and the American racer gave his feelings of his SX performance and also mentioned he might not do all the Maxxis British Championship rounds in 2012. Here is the very cool interview by Dan Lamb.
Over the last few years, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship series, has been in the middle of a foreign invasion. GP riders coming to the U.S. to compete in the AMA has become less and less rare.
This year, though, one rider who has recently been racing the FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship in Europe came over to the Western Regional Supercross Lites Championship with a slightly different story—he’s American.
Zach Osbourne left the States in 2008 because he could not find a ride, packing his bags and heading to England to compete in the FIM MX2 Motocross World Championship for Steve Dixon’s Monster Energy/Yamaha team. Zach has been a solid Championship contender over there ever since.
This year, though, before competing in the 2012 MX2 Championship, Zach was given the green light by Steve to show his Supercross skills in the first four rounds of the Westerm Regional Supercross Lites Championship.
With a ninth in Anaheim, a sixth in Phoenix and a podium finish in Los Angeles last weekend, Zach has done exactly what he set out to do. If team managers and race fans in the U.S. did not know who Zach was three weeks ago, he has definitely enlightened them. We hear that several teams are already interested in Zach’s services for 2013.
We talked to Zach after his podium finish in L.A. and asked him about the race, what it meant to him and his plans for the rest of 2012. Here’s how that conversation played out.
Q: Where have you been living and training while racing Supercross?
Osborne: I’m staying in Wildomar [California].
Q: Nice, perfect spot for Supercross training. Where have you been riding and testing?
Osborne: I’ve been training and riding everyday at the Alessi’s and also at the Yamaha track.
Q: While you are here, you have some support from the Yamaha factory?
Osborne: Yeah, they’ve been doing a lot for me. Also I’m pitting with the Rock River team, and they’re doing quite a bit for me. I’m really thankful for their support.
Q: You definitely held up your end and made it worth it for everyone involved.
Osborne: Yeah, I’m trying my best to for sure. It’s been good for me so far, and I hope to make this wekend go well too.
Q: Nice. Can you take us through your L.A. Supercross? You qualified out of the gate with the second fastest time. Was it a perfect day from the beginning?
Osborne: Yeah, it was a good day. I got on with the track right away. That’s probably one of my stronger points of getting things dialed in pretty quickly. I was fine with having only that one twelve minute practice to get it done. I think I learned it and made some good selections for the Main Event and for the heat race and made the most of my opportunities.
Q: Yeah, it was an incredible ride. The big difference that I saw in L.A. as opposed to your first two Main Events was that you went after it right out of the gate.
Osborne: Yeah, the first race [Anaheim 1]–obviously, it was a lot of nerves for me. I wasn’t nervous going in, but when I got in the moment, I was pretty nervous. It’s been a while since I had been in that situation, so it kind of overcame me. Then last weekend in Phoenix, I thought I rode well and had a good opportunity to possibly put in on the podium. I wasn’t aggressive enough and kind of just lulled around in the middle of the race. This weekend, I learned from Phoenix and attacked and made some good passes on the first few laps, and I just tried to keep it in their for the fifteen.
Q: Once you got by Martin Davalos and into second, you were able to keep some good distance on Dean Wilson for most of the race, but he reeled you in throughout laps six thru nine before passing you. Did you get a little tight when you saw Deano coming?
Osborne: I did get a little bit tight to be honest. Then, I took a few laps and regrouped. I saw Marvin [Musquin] getting quite close to us, and I knew I was going to have to either wick it up or make something happen. Then I realized he had gone down, and Dean was pressing pretty hard on me. I knew I didn’t want to get cleaned out by him. You know, he’s going for a Championship, and I respect that. He made a pretty aggressive pass on me which was fine. I would have done the same, probably even a little more if I were in his shoes. I just kind of settled for third at that point.
Q: Did you think about going back after him, because after Deano went by, your lap times actually picked up.
Osborne: No, I just wanted to stay with him because I didn’t want to get off my pace and started doing stuff that I wasn’t doing or missing sections. Tyla was coming as well. He caught both of us, and he was even gaining on Musquin before he crashed. I knew that I needed to stay with Dean and take it to the finish line, so that’s what I did.
Q: We have talked before about GP’s, and it is weird talking AMA Supercross with you, hearing you talk about having to hold off Musquin and Rattray who are two FIM MX2 Motocross World Champions.
Osborne: Yeah, it’s a pretty international cast right now. It’s pretty cool to be racing with those guys on my side of the world.
Q: Was standing on the podium with a third in L.A. kind of sweet redemption for everything you have been through to get there? I noticed emotions seemed a bit high for you up there.
Osborne: Ah, definitely! It’s been a long road, like I said on the podium. It’s definitely sweet to come back and have a good result. I know it’s just one good results, and I need to keep it going, but still it felt really good. Just to have that moment with everyone was awesome for me.
Q: How did this podium compare to your first Grand Prix win in Turkey?
Osborne: It’s a different feeling, I guess you could say. To win a GP is a big deal for an American, but also to come back and to do well in a Supercross on a European team [Monster Energy/Bike-it/Cosworth/Yamaha] is big. We came here to race out of my van, but Rock River/Yamaha stepped up and gave us a spot under the tent and their semi. But to do it the way we’ve done it and to get a good ride for Ohlins [suspension] and all the people involved is really good for us. It feels really awesome.
Q: Yeah, your success is huge for Ohlins. At this point, they don’t have a huge U.S. presence.
Osborne: No, but I think they’re building. They got the team with Grant Langston this year, and I think they’ll have some good results on the east coast. They’re putting in a big effort, and they have awesome stuff. When we started this year, we started without really any settings. We started with stiff outdoor stuff, and we have made a lot of gains and improvements over the past few months. We’re working with Sweden and the guys back in North Carolina–Marty [Lange] and Stacy [Berger] and everyone.
Q: I hate to use the word “sick,” but you’re bike is sick.
Osborne: Yeah, honestly it’s one of the fastest ones out there. I’m pretty confident with that. The reason I’m not getting starts is definitely not because of my bike. If anything, it’s because my bike’s a little too fast, and I can’t keep the front wheel down. It is good, and I have to give it up to my mechanic Ben [Poperwell] and my team manager Steve [Dixon] who put a lot of effort into this. And Cosworth too. It’s come a long way.
Q: Speaking of Cosworth, they have a lot of Lites Supercross motor building experience working with the Star Racing team. Did you start with their settings for motor?
Osborne: No, pretty much all of our settings for that stuff pretty much came from England. We didn’t really use any of Star’s stuff at all. We started with the Cosworth stuff three years ago now and developed a lot of it, so we are on are own settings. It’s their parts, but not their settings.
Q: I know Monster Energy has a huge presence in the GP’s, but in 2011, they were with the Monster Energy/Rinaldi/Factory Yamaha team with guys like David Philippaerts, Steven Frossard and Gautier Paulin. When did your team sign on with them?
Osborne: At the end of the year, Steve made the decision to take the Factory Yamaha deal, which comes along with Monster Energy. It’s Monster Energy Factory Yamaha racing. They decided to go with that, so Monster is our new title sponsor for this year.
Q: So your team will now be under the same umbrella as the Rinaldi/ Monster Energy Factory Yamaha team in 2012? That’s a powerful merger.
Osborne: Right, they pretty much have the MX1 effort, and we have the MX2 effort, even though they have one MX2 guy and we have one MX1 guy.
Q: Nice. So who are your teammates for 2012?
Osborne: Yeah, the same teammate I had last year: Arnaud Tonus–and Shaun Simpson on MX1.
Q: Tonus was impressive all of 2011, but I was really impressed–maybe a bit surprised–by his Supercross skills over the off-season in Europe this year. The kid was flying.
Osborne: Yeah, he’s a good Supercross rider. I think with some time and work he could be a really good Supercross rider.
Q: I have read that Steve Dixon might actually try to put together a full U.S. effort around you so you can come back next year?
Osborne: That’s what he says. We’ll see. It’s something different for him. He’s obviously ambitious to try to run a GP and an American effort, so we’ll see.
Q: I wanted to ask you about A1 when everyone was thinking the #338 was Jason Lawrence. You guys wrote “This is not Jlaw” on a pit board and placed it in front of your pits (laughs). Was that all in good fun, or was it pretty annoying to have everyone think that you were him?
Osborne: It was kind of funny. My cousin actually did it, because everyone kept coming up and asking if it was Jlaw or if it was Jlaw’s bike, so he just wrote a sign on one of the Toyota things and it kind of spiralled from there.
Q: That was probably the best part of A1 (laughs). How hard was it to get the #338 from the AMA–or were they just happy to give it to someone other than Jlaw? The AMA never liked him much (laughs).
Osborne: It wasn’t that bad. He didn’t sign up for a number this year, and he had #54 last year, so it wasn’t so bad.
Q: This coming weekend in Oakland is your last Supercross for 2012 before heading back overseas to prepare for your job of winning the MX2 Motocross World Championship. Is the plan to get a win in Oakland before you head back overseas?
osborne: I don’t know. Another solid effort or solid podium. I would love to win a heat race. I want to keep building on what I’m doing, and every weekend I’ve gotten better and better. I’d like to get a pole or a podium, put my name out there a little bit more, and it should be good.
Q: Overall, do you think this Supercross effort is going to help you in your GP effort for 2012?
Osborne: Yeah, for sure. That fifteen minutes of high heart rate and intensity on a man made track with all the obstacles and stuff will be really good for my GP program, as far as that initial fifteen minutes of intensity and obviously the emphasis on getting good starts and race time under race pressure will really help me.
Q: One last question. A lot of people wonder why you are only doing four rounds of Supercross, but they probably don’t realize how many different Championships you race all over the world in a season. What Championships will you compete in over seas this year?
Osborne: This year I’m going to do some British [Motoross Championship] rounds, a few Dutch Championships before the first Grand Prix. I’ll obviously do all the Grand Prix’s and we’ll do most of the British Championships.