As the second moto at the Rockwell Watches Thunder Valley National came to a conclusion of a rapid-fire day of racing—four motos squeezed into four hours—one man was still pushing it as hard and as fast as he could. It wasn't the leader, GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac. His hard work was finished several laps early after a blistering second moto start and a true breakaway win. Tomac had slowed down to savor a long-coveted victory at his home track on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship circuit.
The man riding fastest was Zach Osborne, Tomac's teammate for 2013 and a rider who has not quite had the season he hoped for after returning from the European theater of motocross where he raced GPs for several years. Passed over by the U.S. factory teams, Osborne did okay over there, embracing the life and a chance to keep racing, even winning an overall GP in Turkey a few years ago. However, his title hopes were always eclipsed by a fast group of young KTM riders on the fast track to worldwide stardom. First Marvin Musquin, followed by Ken Roczen, and then Jeffrey Herlings. The coincidentally irony in that Osborne was a KTM rider here in the states in his minicycle and amateur days, a close rival to a kid on a Suzuki named Ryan Dungey.
Zach Osborne used a late charge in the second moto to capture third overall.
Simon Cudby photo
On Saturday, as the track grew rougher and more challenging, Osborne kept on the gas. Gone forever is the old nickname “Snack-Pack Zach,” because he is a superb shape now and it was showing on the side of this mountain in Colorado. He stubbornly stayed in third in the second moto, stalking Roczen while being pursued by Musquin. If not for the presence of the leader Tomac, this could have been a GP in 2010!
But that was then, and this is now, and the driven Osborne stayed on Roczen's roost until halfway through the last lap, and then pounced in a hairpin after a step-up, seemingly catching Kenny unawares. It was brilliant, and Osborne would go on to place a career-high second in the moto and earned his first-ever AMA Motocross trophy with a third overall. But beating the former world champs Roczen and Musquin—straight up—must have felt awesome.
Now Osborne gets to go to his own home track, Muddy Creek, which is not far from his hometown of Abingdon, Virginia. It will be his turn to be the hometown hero, and it might just also be his turn to get himself another trophy.