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Zach Osborne was arguably the most pleasant surprise in Paris, as he was just as fast as the eventual winner and reigning 450SX champion, Jason Anderson, in what was his full-time debut on the FC 450. There were countless positives that he could extract from the event and those are covered in this interview from the event.
MX Vice: Your first proper full-time race on a 450. It went pretty well, aside from the last race which was a complete disaster, so leaving here you must be pretty stoked.
Zach Osborne: Yeah, really happy with it. Had some really good starts and a couple of really, really good motos and a moto win. The flat tire in the last one was a bit of a fluke and a little bit of an unfortunate deal, but realistically the whole weekend went well. I’m leaving safe and will be back for Geneva in two weeks.
Obviously, you stayed out there in that last race when most people thought you’d pull it in. I guess you just wanted to be on the box?
I don’t pull in, mate. Come on.
It was a bit sketchy!
Yeah, but why should I pull in? That’s what I get paid to do. I can go out there and roll around. It made me third on the podium for the King of Paris and almost got third overall on the night. Why should I stop?
Speaking of sketchy, there were a lot of sketchy riders out there. I can’t remember if you had a moment, but I saw a lot of them. Were there any points out there where you were like, “Oh sh*t, this is not good?”
Yeah, for sure. I had a couple moments last night in the whoops, but we made some changes today and my bike was a lot better. That’s one of the key things, just me getting to a point where I’m comfortable with telling them what I’m feeling and which direction I want to go to kind of make it better and move forward. That is a part of the point of doing these races was to kind of get my feet wet with that and really make some forward progress on testing and just my race craft.
Getting the whoops consistently was quite a big thing for you this weekend, wasn’t it? People kept telling me that you were struggling there, but then on the first lap of that last main you killed it through there. You could do it.
Yeah, for sure. Like I said, last night I definitely had some moments and wasn’t quite as fast as Jason [Anderson] in the whoops. I felt like I could kind of make up a little bit everywhere else and then would struggle in the whoops. Tonight I felt like I was a lot better and I was able to make actually some time and some passes eventually happen, because of my whoops speed. I feel really good about it moving forward and I feel like conditions-wise this is kind of worst-case scenario for me when it’s hard and slick, which it was very hard and very slick. I look forward to Geneva in a couple weeks and I think it’s going to be really good for me.
Everyone was obviously doing the same thing out there, but then yesterday in that rhythm section before you came back onto the start you were experimenting a little bit and going double, triple, single. Did you feel like that actually helped or were you just trying anything you could?
Well, one thing is like here there’s a little bit further gap between the berm and the jump. You come down the berm onto a little bit of a flat bit and then the jump, whereas normally we would come down the berm into a jump. So when you come down the berm, the bike unloads on the flat bit and then you’re spinning so you are not quite getting the drive. It’s like kind of a last-second decision. Like in the last main last night, that was completely blue groove. I felt like I could have a second line.
If I came out of the corner and it wasn’t good; double, triple, single was fine. I just was trying to really experiment and make smart moves. That’s one thing about the 450 class. The tracks get really, really gnarly and you have to be good when it’s bad. I think it showed a little bit in the Superpole that my bike wasn’t quite set up for the smoother just send it conditions and more for the last main event when it was rough and gnarly. I’m pretty happy with the way it went.
Matching Jason wasn’t really a problem for you all night. Well, actually, you were faster than him on a lot of laps. Did that surprise you at all? Did you kind of know where you were at coming into here?
We have ridden together a lot the last couple weeks and we are really close. He is the supercross champion though, so I kind of expected to be a little bit off of him. He is a good racer. I felt to come and be even close to him was really good for my first outing. I’ve been riding six weeks after a four-month layoff and haven’t raced at all, so I was pretty happy with the way things went.
Is it tough to manage expectations in that respect? You are still coming into your rookie year, so you need to learn and go through all of that stuff, but then you see what happened here and you are like, “Well, maybe this could be amazing?”
I think it can be amazing. I’m trying not to build expectations period, because I feel like expectations bleed feelings like sad or happy. That can affect the mood and that affects the training, then it can be uphill or downhill. You don’t want to risk the downhill. I’m trying to just do me, train every day, be as good as I can be and we’ll go there and race and the best man will win. Of course, I would love to be in it for the championship and I think I can be. I’m trying to avoid the rookie fifteenths, seventeenths, DNFs and just kind of be a solid guy. That’s what it takes. I’m really happy with the way things are heading at the moment.
Finally, obviously you are doing this and Geneva. Are you doing those two, because you need to get used to the 450 or more because you are coming off of a break and you need some race time under your belt?
Both. It’s simply for me to have some gate drops and also for me to feel the bike in a race situation. Obviously it’s really good at home. I’ve been testing for a couple weeks now and I’m at a point where I’m really, really comfortable and happy with what I’ve got going on. We came here and we had to make a couple of little changes, which is to be expected. That is why we are here, effectively. Obviously the money and everything is nice but, at the same time, I’m here to learn and build towards Anaheim, which is what I really get paid for.
I guess what you are really building towards is Assen in 2019. All roads lead there, right?
For me, yeah. Seriously. In order to be picked for the team, it is like I said at the beginning of supercross in ’17. My main goal was to be on the team for Matterley and it’s so true. To be picked for the team it’s a very prestigious thing and you need to have good results all season, so yeah. I would love to be in Assen. I’ve told the team already that I’m willing to spend the month before the race in Lommel or wherever we pick to go. I would love for that to happen.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: @Crunch724