Zach Osborne: Around the world for a supercross title!
It was 2011 at Desertmartin in Northern Ireland and Zach Osborne’s hopes of retaining the British title had taken a nosedive.
It was a world away from the bright lights and stardom of supercross of America. This was a tough sand track, racing against a tough teammate, Arnaud Tonus, with no-one from America watching. But Osborne, after a DNF in moto one and a crash in race two, still rebounded to win the third and final moto.
It kind of summed Osborne up – the guy never gives up no matter where he is and will always fight to turn things around. And he used the same ingredients to clinch his first ever supercross title on Saturday night in Las Vegas live on Fox sports in the USA!
Despite his disappointment that day at Desertmartin, Zach still made time to do an interview with me for PulpMX and it was during that interview Zach mentioned about going back to America to race supercross.
“It should be pretty simple for me to get back into it.” said Osborne (read the full interview here) and now, six years later, the American having won a British motocross title, a GP race, and a US National along the way, has finally accomplished his childhood dream – to become a supercross champion.
Osborne left America back in 2008 and signed for Steve Dixon’s Yamaha team to race the MX2 world championship and the British championship. He lived in England and Norway and raced all around the world. He competed against future legends of the sport, like Marvin Musquin, Jeffrey Herlings and Ken Roczen in MX2, with Zach’s best season being 2010 that saw him finish fourth in the world championship and win the British MX2 national title.
The American learnt his craft the hard way and became one of the toughest and fittest outdoor riders in sport after racing gruelling seasons of 16 MXGP rounds plus 8 British championship events.
He went back to America full-time in 2013 a new man. He was fit, fast and hungry to show his new speed to his homeland. He succeeded and became a podium contender indoors and out riding for Geico Honda and factory Husqvarna, but the titles always eluded him.
But with Saturday night’s legendary comeback ride culminating in that heart-stopping but title-winning take-out of Joey Savatgy with one turn left in Las Vegas, Zach Osborne’s career went full circle. He had went around the world to get back to America to achieve his initial goal of a supercross title!
His emotion at the end showed just how much it mean to him and the lifelong journey he has been on to take him to that fulfilled dream. “It’s already a high pressure situation and you come down to one big bowl turn and a set of whoops to go and that’s what stands between you and being a champion. I was overwhelmed with emotion, nerves, pressure, everything and I just broke down.” explained Osborne.
One of the nice guys in the sport, Osborne is also a tough competitor but you know that everyone that has seen him race in the British or world championship scene along with many in America, will have been pleased for a guy who did it the hard way and has earned his rewards.
On his ride Osborne admitted: “I needed another miracle (when I went down) Dakota Alix footpegs were stuck in my spokes, so I thought I would do what I can. I saw Smith down but I knew Joey was up front. I had no idea (I could win) until four laps to go I kept getting closer and closer. Then with two to go I had to pass Mitchell Harrison and then he passed me back and I thought, ‘man, this is not going to happen.’ but yeah, it happened! It’s for a championship in the last corner, what are you going to do?
“The whole moto I could see him, it just seemed insurmountable. Even going into the first set of whoops and I guess in the second he didn’t get a good run or something and I sent it pretty hard, probably a little too hard into the whoops but it got me close enough and I was able to make a pass. It was definitely intense, you could never replicate that ever.”
Osborne has the option to go to the 450s next season or stay and defend his title but he isn’t quite sure of his next move for 2018. “I’m not sure, it would be cool to run the number one but I did a 450 test before the season and it went really well so it’s either or, I’m not really too bothered about it. I would like to defend and I think it’s an awesome move they made to allow us to be able to defend. So it’s definitely an option for me.”
But whatever happens in his career from now on, Zach and the sport will never forget that heroic ride and that brutal yet beautiful pass to win the 2017 East Coast championship!