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Monday Conversation: Zach Osborne

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  • They played The Star-Spangled Banner this weekend in Turkey
On Sunday, 19-year-old Zach Osborne became the first American winner of an MX2 Grand Prix when he owned the Turkish round of the FIM World Championship.  (There were plenty of U.S. winners when it was the 125cc class, but none since Mike Brown a decade ago.) The Utag Yamaha.com racer managed the feat in just his eighth appearance in Europe and his success also marked the first American GP victory in Europe this century. Racer X’s European contributor Adam Wheeler spoke with the Virginia native about his breakthrough win in Istanbul.

Racer X: So how did you go from being tenth in Bulgaria to first here in Turkey?
Zach Osborne: I’m not entirely sure! I think I came into the weekend with a better attitude. I know that my bike is good enough and that I am good enough, I just needed to start believing in that more and I think it showed here.

Tell me about the difference between the tracks because Sevlievo (in Bulgaria) seemed more about horsepower while here was more technical and more difficult...
Yeah, it is a physically demanding track they have here. I wouldn’t say it is my favorite but I really enjoyed it. I think it separated the men from the boys.

What happened when Marvin Musquin passed you for the lead in the second moto? Did you feel like you could still control things?
Yes, I tried to pull away and it didn’t work out. I knew he was behind me and doing my pace, perhaps only a little bit faster. He went through and made a small distance but I was able to keep him in sight and start to reel him back in a little bit. I wanted to make a charge but I was aware that I didn’t need to pass him for the overall.

  • Osborne went 3-1 for the overall win
At what point in the second moto did you think ‘I’ve got the overall’?
About 20 minutes in I was feeling pretty solid and saw that Musquin was making some mistakes. Steven (Frossard) was coming up to us fast though and when we looped back I could see him closer all the time. One lap he just disappeared so I knew he was right there. At that point I needed to focus more on Musquin and getting forward. I got lucky and caught a glimpse of Gautier Paulin (winner of Moto1) on the first lap and he was way back, so I knew the overall was on.

This is arguably the highest point of you career to-date, isn’t it?
Yeah, for sure. I am proud to be up here and can’t thank the team enough for all the work they did with me in the U.S. over the winter to get the bike ready for me.

Has it started to click over in your mind yet the landmark you have achieved for yourself and also your country?
Not yet but when they played the national anthem that was pretty cool for me and one of the best moments in my life so far. I think I will wake up tomorrow and savour it more. It is great going into the small break we have now with a result like this.

Are you a confident rider?
Hmm, maybe… I get on with the job but obviously good results affect you in a good way. Perhaps I am not such a confident person. Maybe that has something to do with my ‘not-so-successful’ past or whatever but I think I am getting better with it, and is something I need to work on.

Your girlfriend Brittany and your folks must already know about this. Have you had some nice reactions from people back home?
Yeah, I have my Facebook profile linked to my email and there have been so many messages already! I want to thank everyone and especially my family for their support.

This is a small part of what you could achieve. Is there some vindication in the risk you took to change your life and come out here to show what you can do?
Yeah, I think for me at the time it wasn’t really a risk, more a last-chance shot to make-it or break-it. I think I am doing pretty good so far and getting the job done. I think there can be more weekends like this. I did a lot of sand training in the winter so I am looking forward to the next GP and maybe the French riders won’t be so quick there. MX2 is very open this year and I think there will always be different guys up there.

  • Zach is the first American GP winner in a decade
After seeming like the guy who had no idea how to get up those muddy hills in Italy you have now scaled the championship standings quite a lot (Zach is now fifth).
Yeah, I was 25 points down with zero scored at Faenza and got some points on the board in Bulgaria but now I’m fifth and seven points from third-place. I was 25th, so I think that’s a pretty good jump!

Lastly, any plans to splash the bonus this week?
I really need to get a camper, but one bonus won’t do it! I’ll need a couple more wins to make a hefty down payment.

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