A former member of the Bike It Cosworth race team who raced the FIM Motocross World Championship for five years—2008 through 2012—Virginian Zach Osborne is a very experienced and respected Grand Prix racer. A veteran of 46 GP starts as well a former GP winner, Osborne, now a world class 450cc rider for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing outfit here in the United States of America, is also a veteran of the foreign war known as the Motocross of Nations. He returned to the American radar during his time in Europe while competing in the MXoN as part of Team Puerto Rico. Then, at the MXoN held in Matterley Basin, Great Britain, two years ago, Osborne was the star of the Team USA effort that dreary, rain-lashed afternoon.
Zach Osborne is now back in Europe (you may have seen the Team Fried videos!), this time with Husqvarna teammate Jason Anderson, the dynamic duo cranking out laps and putting time on their MXoN race bikes. Now joined by U.S. 250cc rider Justin Cooper, who touched down in Belgium a few days back, the three Yankees are working as a close knit team, idyllic for the World Team Championship of Motocross set to run at Assen next week.
On Thursday morning, Racer X spoke with the hard charging, well-spoken family man.
Racer X: Zach, what’s happening? I have to say it has been very cool to follow you guys as you get your sand track game on over in the Benelux Low Countries. How is that all going?
Zach Osborne: Yeah, so far, so good. We’ve been riding five or six days now and everything is going good and as good as can be expected for such new terrain. I know it’s still motocross and the same bikes and everything, but at the same time it’s a very different feeling underneath your wheels. We’re just trying to learn as much as we can before the race. We’re going to go in with a positive attitude and see what we can do.
How did it come together that you and Jason Anderson decided to head over to Europe together to bash out countless laps in deep sand?
Basically, from around the time that we got picked to be on the team and knowing that we were on the team, we both knew what it was going to take to do as good as possible. We wanted to put ourselves in the best situation that we can to come here and embed were ourselves to do a lot of sand riding for the maximum amount of time that we’re allowed to be here. We put together a plan with Aldon [Baker] and Husqvarna in Austria and here in Belgium with IceOne Racing. Both ends of Husqvarna have been super, super supportive with everything that we’ve had going on. We’ve done a lot of riding and testing and we’ve compared settings and stuff. We’ve had an all-out effort at doing the best that we possibly can.
What’s your take on that nasty Lommel circuit in Belgium? That’s the same exact place Team USA—Johnny O’Mara, Chuck Sun, Donnie Hansen and Danny Laporte—won the Trophee des Nations for the first time in 1981.
It was really cool. We had a fun day there. It’s not exactly your typical Lommel GP. It was much smoother than that when we were there. We’re well aware of that, but at the same time, it was nice to come back to Belgium and be in surroundings that I’ve been in before, but mainly I enjoy being in Europe. I love the place and I have some friends here, so it’s a really to come back and revisit some old places and faces.
And you’re certainly a veteran Motocross of Nations competitor.
Yeah, my last race was at Matterley Basin and the Motocross of Nations and I was able to go there and stay with some old friends and just be around people I’m familiar with. I think that makes this race a lot easier for me. It’s not completely new to me. It’s something I can easily cope with, if you will.
Yes, you had an excellent outing with Team USA at the Matterley Basin Motocross of Nations. Confidence-inspiring for Assen? I mean you know you can do it.
Yeah, I had a really good day at Matterley. In the first moto I got a really bad start and lost my goggles because it was raining and something happened with the tearoffs. I went eight and three there. I also had a sensational ride on Saturday in the qualifying race. It was probably one of my top five races from my whole career. Just the atmosphere was amazing and it was a special win for me. It was a cool, fun race on Saturday and it was a really cool thing for me.
You and Jason strike me as very different people. How are you guys doing together on your excellent adventure?
We’re kind of like the odd couple, I guess you could say. We’re polar opposites. I’m three or four years older than Jason and I’m married with two kids and run a pretty tight ship, and Jason is younger and single and still has a lot of fun and enjoys himself. We’re a little bit oil and water, but like I said, we’re both willing to work really hard and now we have one common goal to be as good as we can be for our country and to be good ambassadors and go there knowing that we did everything we possibly could to prepare the very best we could. It’s been awesome working with Jason since we’ve been here. Obviously, he’s someone I’m very familiar with and we’re on the same team and we ride and train with the same trainer. We both have a very good understanding of each other. Being teammates on Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing is great, but being teammates on Team USA is another level of that. It’s been fun and we’ve both really enjoyed riding together. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of gym work and training and stuff on top of all the riding and it has been really fun.
I spoke with Justin Cooper a couple days ago and I know he’s over there and riding now. Are you guys going to meet up and circle the wagons?
Yeah, for sure. We’re going to go riding on Friday and again on Monday. I think he’s in a good place too. The main things is to be ready to fight whatever comes our way. I think we’re in a good spot as a team and a group and it’s a very good situation.
You guys are operating as a total team and taking the upcoming race very seriously. Many feel the U.S. MXoN team hasn’t been enough of a team in recent years. But you guys have to feel you can win this thing?
Yeah, it’s one of those races where anything can happen, as we saw last year. Anything can happen. Obviously, we are not the favorites. That’s common knowledge, I think and it’s kind of what you would expect, but at the same time, we put a lot into this and we’re trying to be as good as a team as possible. I think that’s going to help our cause. Overall, we’re all in and I think that’ll make a difference in the end with our result.
Assen—aka The Cathedral—has been hosting races since the 1950s. What do you make of the place and of the deep sand they’re going to pour over the asphalt and what-not?
I think it’s going to be a really good race. It’s going to be a cool spectacle. There is a 40,000-seat grandstand right there on the main straightaway. I think it’s a pretty cool deal. Are there other Dutch tracks that are much cooler? I think so. This is kind of where the sport is at here in Europe at the moment. It is what it is. I think it’s going to be a good race. One of the first dreams that I ever had as a racer was to race the Motocross of Nations. Anytime that I’m picked, I’m ready to give it everything I that have. I’m kind of living the dream here, so this is something that I’m willing to put a lot into and something that I really enjoy.
Main Image: Derek Garcia