Insight: 250 Podium from Southwick

Insight 250 Podium from Southwick

July 9, 2017 9:00am

Zach Osborne is becoming the master of grinding out wins, taking his fourth Lucas Oil Pro Motocross overall of the season in seven starts over the weekend at the Red Bull Southwick National. In only one of those four wins, though, has Osborne gone 1-1 and completely dominated (Hangtown), the other victories were built with patience, experience, and grit. He spent most of the first moto in fourth, for example, but by the end of the second moto he was headed to another moto and overall win on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna.

That further stretches his lead over Alex Martin in the 250MX standings—Alex went 3-3 on the day. Both riders attended the post-race press conference, hosted by Jimmy Albertson.

Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis had the speed to win, but ended up second overall, tying Osborne on points with a 1-2. He missed the press conference to catch a Saturday-night flight, however.

Racer X: Zach, another great day. It looked like in that first moto that you really were trying to charge for the lead with Dylan Ferrandis out front. What was going through your head there in the closing stages of that race when you decided to stick it in for second?
Zach Osborne: I had a couple places where I felt like I was better than him, but he had a couple places that he was better than me. It was kind of hard because you had to take every lap. I felt like maybe if it were someone else I would have had to take the risk to make the pass, but with Dylan being back a little bit in the championship and stuff I just decided to ride it in for a second and take 22 points.

Alex, it was kind of a heartbreak in the second moto last weekend being out front. Having a couple great starts this weekend, running up front again, what were kind of the things you felt like this weekend that held you back from being in that number one spot?
Alex Martin: For me today bike setup was kind of off all day, right from the get-go in practice. I’ve been really good in practice lately and I think I qualified 11th, so I was a little bit off the pace just due to bike setup. We were making progress throughout the day and second practice it was better. The first moto it was better, but we kind of still were searching a little bit. Even the second moto we kind of had a better setting. That was probably the best we had all day. Still for the most part just kind of searching all day. That was kind of our issue for today. I went out and did the sighting lap on the first moto and I was like, well, you need to get a holeshot. Here it’s so crucial. I was able to get the holeshot almost both motos – first moto for sure. Second moto that guy [Zach] got me a little bit. That’s what you want to do on a track like this. It’s pretty one-lined and especially with the rain in the second moto that came, you definitely need to get up front and try and avoid the roost.

Jeff Kardas

In two weeks’ time we’re going to be in your backyard in Millville, Minnesota. Are you going to end up going back to Florida this following week or are you going to be heading home to try to get a little bit of time in Minnesota before the National you have coming up at your place?
Martin: I’m basically in Florida now for the rest of the summer. I will go back but then Wednesday, it will be press day Thursday. So, I will be back but then I fly home – “home” as in Florida – on Sunday after the race. So, I won’t be there too long. My fiancé’s parents live five miles from the track [at Millville], so I’ll be staying there with them and have some home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kind of excited about that. But for the most part I won’t be home too long. My brother [Jeremy Martin] actually went back after RedBud and he’ll be there until after Washougal.

Zach, how did the conditions change out there during that second moto when it started raining?
Osborne: The first rain wasn’t so bad. It kind of just killed the dust and kind of made the top a little bit wet. There were a couple of hard spots though that got pretty slick. But then the second rain it started to change pretty quick. It just started to get kind of slushy and some longer rut, groove type deals that you really had to be careful with. So, it got a little tricky there at the end.

Alex, in the first moto when RJ Hampshire had got you for the lead, he was running a really good pace. I think he might have set the fastest lap time in that moto. Was that something that you were shocked about?
Martin: For sure. I was shocked. I’m used to seeing number six on the GEICO Honda and I saw #31 RJ and I was like, dang! Kid’s going for it. It was like third lap in the moto. I was like, well, we got 70 minutes left so I’ll just let him take his glory for a little bit. It was a bummer he tipped over, but I wasn’t too bummed about it because I got the lead back. I was just kind of Steady Eddie there at the beginning of the moto. Like I said, I was fighting the bike, and then also I knew it was going to be a long and hot day. I think it was a forecast of 86 degrees and humid. I don’t feel like we’ve had a Southwick that hot in recent memory. So, it was definitely going to be a physically demanding day and that rain kind of saved us a little bit there.

Alex, up on the podium you were talking about you held onto your goggles as long as you could. It sounded like you had some Lasik last year?
Martin: Yeah. I’ve worn contacts for many, many years, since fifth grade. It’s been something I’ve been able to deal with. It’s not really an issue, but you get sick of contacts and glasses after a while. I found a really good Lasik surgeon up in the Twin Cities and everything went good. I was in and out of the surgery room in 10 minutes. It was like maybe two minutes per eye. The next day I went in and it was 20/15 vision. It was amazing. Then the first time I rode, and I rode a sand track out in California, and I had to take my goggles off. The roost was really killing my eyes. So, that was one thing I was nervous about was just the mud and having to take the goggles off and my eyes would hurt in the past. I guess we found out in the race today. It seemed to work all right, but it was not ideal.

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For both of you guys, it seemed like a lot of riders were struggling with bike setup and weird mistakes and crashes. Was the track forming up different than past Southwicks? Langston on the TV show thought that it was even harder and more slippery than even usual here. Was that weird for either of you guys?
Osborne: I felt quite the opposite. I thought it was way deeper than last year. It got some big sand whoops. I thought it was really good. But there were still a couple hard spots up on the top where you jump into that hole. That’s super hard. The base in general was pretty tight. But definitely thought the race surface was really better this year.

Martin: Yeah, me too. I knew right from the get-go it was deep. I had heard that they had hauled in a lot of sand, so I was expecting that. It seemed like there was a lot more rollers. It was definitely deeper right from the get-go. I think that’s the first time I remember in recent memory where the times were actually faster the second session. That’s pretty rare I feel like at Southwick. I think it’s just a testament to us being second after the 450s and then them hauling the sand in and it being rough. Obviously, they got rain yesterday so it was pretty good conditions for making for a rough racetrack.

So it was deeper than you thought? Did that throw you off as far as set up or what you had expected coming in, or was it close enough to last year where you were fairly on point? Alex, obviously you’re on a different bike from last year.
Martin: Yeah, I just don’t maybe think that we’ve rode enough true sand tracks coming in to have a good idea of what we’re up against. Obviously, I feel like it’s hard in my old age maybe to hang out there for those one-lappers in practice. I just felt like kind of a pansy out there and these kids were just blowing my doors off.

Osborne: I just ran a little bit more sag and slid my forks up just to get it a little bit of chopper [stance] to make it easier so I can pull past the bumps. Other than that, I’ve obviously ridden a lot in the sand. I just kind of remember my technique and didn’t change so much for the bike. I was pretty comfortable. I’m not super picky when it comes down to the little things [on bike setup]. I would rather just be close and do the rest on my own sort of thing.

Rich Shepherd

Zach, I know you said you didn’t even test going into Hangtown. You just rode what you had last year. Have you done stuff since then? Obviously the season is going good, but it started good too.
Osborne: We are now on an updated setting. Between Colorado and High Point I changed. Or High Point and Muddy Creek. I don’t really remember. We did a couple days of testing in Florida between those rounds and made a little change. I felt like it was a little stiff—obviously, I lost some weight since last year. I feel like at the same time my strategy of starting where I stopped last year was a good one.

When it rains and it’s nasty like that, you’ve got so much experience in these conditions it seems to help you. Talk about that a little bit. You’ve ridden some tough stuff in the past.
Osborne: That’s kind of why I enjoy it. That’s my jam right there. I like that. Alex is right—we’ve both rode plenty of motos on the sand track. But we both pride ourselves on being hard workers. I feel like when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I was loving it.

It’s crazy to think, Alex, that in 2009 you had placed on the podium here. That was eight years ago. Is there something special about this place from that being that first good race that you had?
Martin: Yeah, 2011 actually. Good old Eleven10 Mods. That was the first breakout race I had, third. Actually it was funny because now I’m training with Tyla [Rattray] and Dean [Wilson] and in that moto it was Tyla, Dean, and then me—first, second, third. A little bit special in my heart I guess. It was my first breakout race that I ever had in my career, I think my third season as a pro. So for sure, that’s something special to me and proved to me that maybe I have something. Maybe I’m not just a back-of-the-pack B rider. I love Southwick.