Championships don’t come easily, and newly minted 250 East Supercross champ Zach Osborne knows that firsthand. From his rough early years as a young pro to racing in Europe to continue riding to his first Supercross win to clinching a championship plate, Zach has battled adversity to get to where he is. In the latest installment, Zach battled back from last place to 7th at the series-finale in Las Vegas in an instant classic to clinch his first title. We caught up with Zach at Hangtown for a quick word on the title.
Dragon: So, how was Las Vegas?
Zach Osborne: It was a huge, emotional rollercoaster, actually. When you have so much stress like that and then it’s finally kind of over, it took me a couple of days to get enough rest to actually recover and be myself again. The last week has been really solid; training and riding and everything. I’m feeling good and really confident and have a lot of momentum going into this season.
DR: You wish you had more time to digest what happened?
ZO: Yeah, it’s a pretty hectic time but we had a nice weekend off last weekend where I was able to relax with my family and do a little fishing and things I enjoy. It was just fun. But I’m happy to be here and get it started and headed in the right direction.
DR: What was it like going into the race: throughout the practices and motos and getting mentally ready?
ZO: It was a super stressful day, in general. I feel like it’s kind of a one-off situation. It’s always stressful to be in a championship situation but to be within one-point, all three of us, and to go down in the first turn, I felt like it was kind of taken away from me. But I just put my head down and made it happen.
DR: What were you thinking then, with the margin of error being so small. Did you think it was over at that point?
ZO: Going down in the first turn, it was just like a whatever-I-can-get-back-to situation. The first turn incident wasn’t my fault. It was one of those deals where it is what it is. But as the laps kept going, I was getting closer and closer and I was thinking that I could maybe make it happen.
DR: You were flying those last four or five laps, seeming like you were right on the edge.
ZO: For sure, the whole race was I was on edge. There were a couple of scary moments where I almost crashed but managed to save it. It was just one of those races where you come off and you just had been in this time warp the whole time. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.
DR: It looked like a fast track?
ZO: It was pretty fast. It was kind of tight but had some fast bits. It was a little bit of a different Las Vegas track.
DR: Right after, could you believe it? It seemed super emotional.
ZO: Yeah, it was super emotional. Like I said, it was stressful and when I crossed the finish line and realized I had won, it was a rush of emotion. It felt like everything I had worked and strived for and set as my goals had finally come true.
DR: It’s been a long time coming. When you turned pro when you were pretty young, had a rough time and went to Europe. Does it seem like this validates a lot of what I’ve been through?
ZO: For sure. It made everything worthwhile. I had four wins on the season which were all really good but to win a championship, that stamps your name in the record books forever. So it’s a special feeling, for sure.
DR: How was that first win in Atlanta? It was before the title talk and you’d never won a Supercross race before.
ZO: Yeah, it was huge for me. It was a kind of breaking the ice, if you will. My entire family was there and I won pretty easily and it was just a killer race the whole night. Even the second one in Toronto was pretty cool.I was just clicking off wins and that was a cool feeling.
DR: Did your confidence grow throughout the season?
ZO: Yeah. I had six podiums throughout the season. I think I’ve had 16 or 17 podiums in my career, so it was one of those deals like, ‘when are you finally going to win one.’ So to finally get the monkey off my back and win the championship in one year was really cool.
DR: So your season was going well but in Detroit you had that mechanical issue on lap one. You raced back to 18th, and that was kind of a big deal in the long run.
ZO: I know that in all championship situations it comes down to these handfuls of points that you score on the terrible days. Especially in a short series like we have in the 250 class. It definitely means that every point counts. And I rode my heart out to get 18th and those three points made the difference in the end.
DR: Since you’ve been back in the States, you’re on your second factory ride… is it nice having factory support after having some lean years in your career?
ZO: It’s awesome to be a part of something like this. And to have Aldon Baker as my trainer. To have everything that we need at our beck and call, there’s no real words. It’s what a true factory team is and it’s cool to have all that.
DR: How’s that with Aldon? You had some health issues earlier in your career that you didn’t know about, right?
ZO: Yeah. For me, I had a good handle on everything when I went there but the main thing is he’s brought a little more balance and more structure, which has been the biggest key for me.
DR: Do you think your background of having ridden in Europe and racing different kinds of tracks will help in Outdoors?
ZO: Yeah, definitely. I think it made me more well rounded and I can kind of lean on that sometimes.
DR: And how do you feel moving to Outdoors? You have a lot of momentum, but Outdoors is a whole different beast.
ZO: Outdoors is more my thing, I think. I’m more of a work-at-supercross kind of guy and this comes more naturally for me. So I’ve got a good mindset and good momentum coming in. My bike is really good and it’s going to be a good Outdoor season.