MINI-VIEW: ZACH OSBORNE
Team Geico/Honda’s Zach Osborne is a journeyman. He’s been a little bit of everywhere, racing in the U.S. and then abroad for several years. Now he’s back stateside, and for good reason. “The Real 338” is a legitimate threat in the 250 class. Just this past weekend he scored third place overall?even with a crash?and tracked down points leader Ken Roczen in the second moto.
I thought it fitting to talk to the Virginia native about his outdoor campaign and hear his thoughts on the Muddy Creek National this weekend.
MXA: That was a hairball crash you had coming off the quad in the first moto. It looked like you were stealing a base in that crash.
Zach: [Laughter] I was pretty lucky that I didn’t have a big crash there. The bike slid out on me instead of high-siding, so it was handy that I didn’t have a big one.
That quad jump looked really big. You seemed to prefer the inside line and jump up to the triple and roll off the last hump. Was that a tactical advantage?
The jump wasn’t that gnarly. If you cased it then you would still be okay. I felt more comfortable going inside and scrubbing face. Then I would jump into the braking bumps and charge into the corner before the finish line. I didn’t feel that jumping the whole thing was that much faster, because you would get so much hang-time. I liked to scrub hard off the face and get every ounce of speed that I could. Only in the first moto I scrubbed too far to the left and went off the track.
In the second moto you had a great battle with Ken Roczen, and it went down to the wire. Obviously you had to consider which spots on the track would be best for passing, but did you know that the right-hand turn after the uphill triple would be the best opportunity?
I didn’t actually know if I would be able to pass him. I did know that if I had the chance, then that corner was going to be my spot. Every lap I wasn’t quite close enough, but finally on the last lap we got into some lappers and I closed the gap enough to pounce on the opportunity.
You’re fifth in points, and it’s still early in the series. Are you satisfied with where you’re at thus far?
So far I’m happy. Thunder Valley could have gone even better, had I not crashed in the first moto. Coming into the Nationals I didn’t know where I was going to stand. It had been so long since I raced an American National. All of my lap times were good in practice, but I had no clue what to expect. I’ll say that I choked in the first moto at Hangtown. However, the rest of the motos have been good and I’ve remained strong through the end. I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer.
Did it feel like you had rookie jitters going into Hangtown?
Definitely. I felt like a complete rookie at the first round. I was really nervous. Thankfully now I’m starting to get more comfortable, and I know that my fitness is where it needs to be. I’m making good passes at the end of the motos.
You’re from Abingdon, Virginia, which is really close to Muddy Creek. What is it, 30 miles away?
From my parent’s house it’s a 25-minute drive to Muddy Creek.
You definitely have home field advantage this weekend!
Yes and no. They made a lot of changes to the track since I rode there. It’ll be cool though because a lot of my friends and family are going to the National to cheer me on. Hopefully I can make the most of the motivation.
Has it been a long time coming for Tennessee to get a National?
Yeah, I think that the southeast is a hot bed for motocross. There’s a really big following in this area. You can tell, because every year the Atlanta Supercross sells out. I think it was a great decision on the part of MX Sports to bring motocross to the southeast.
How do you think the track will shape up? I rode there in 2008, and Muddy Creek was rather short and had some spots where it was quite narrow.
When I was younger Muddy Creek was the place to be. Then it got to a point where the track was going downhill and the dirt was going away. Now I see that they’ve put a lot of effort into the track. They put a lot of soil on the track, and I think it’ll be a great weekend. The AMA always does a great job of prepping the tracks and making sure that the dirt is disced up deep.
Mike Brown lives right down the street from Muddy Creek. Did you ride with him a lot while you were growing up?
Oh yeah. Brownie never had a track at his place, so he would come to my house and we would ride. I’ve known him for a long time, and he’s a definite role model for me. The guy is an ironman!
What is the significance of number 338?
I started with number 38 as a kid, but when I went to my first Amateur National, which was Ponca City in 1998, I was given 338. That’s been my number ever since, except for one year.
Thanks for your time, Zach, and good luck this weekend.
Thanks, John! I’ll see you at Muddy Creek.
STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH
Ryan Villopoto (1-1 for first):
“The team and I are continually working to improve. I had a few spots where I was really making up time on the leaders and ended up taking the lead in the same section both motos. Next week is a brand new track so we will need to be on top of our game to learn the track as quick as possible.”
Ryan Dungey (2-2 for second):
“The team and I are really happy with the progress we made this week. We know where we need to improve and we are looking forward to the next race. It’s great to be consistent but we need to start getting some race wins.”
Justin Barcia (3-4 for third):
“I wish I could have converted those holeshots into wins today but I ended up third and fourth in the two motos for an overall finish of third place, so that’s pretty decent. I’m definitely going to continue working on my starts because I want to win the holeshot title, and there are some other areas I need to work on also. I want some wins.”
James Stewart (15-3 for seventh):
“I went 15/3. The 15 sounds pretty bad, but I didn’t get a good start in the first moto and a rider went down right in front of me and I ran straight into him. I went over the handlebars?I was way dead last, but I made my way up to 15th. It was good because I felt strong the whole race. In the second moto, I didn’t get the best start but I tried to pick off people one by one. I got into third and kind of settled in. Overall, the third was nice, the 15th wasn’t, but I feel better. We’ve really been working on bike stability and now I feel like we’ve got the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 dialed in. I’m happy with that and I actually feel really good?I think it’s time to start winning some races.”
Tyla Rattray (7-10 for eighth):
“It was a good day. The field was really competitive and we had to battle hard to earn the results we got. Dean [Wilson] and I had a nice battle out there in the second moto and I can tell that in just one week, both of us have come a long way.”
Dean Wilson (11-9 for 10th):
“I know it’s just my second race, but it is hard to not want to grab some better results. Despite that, we made some big gains from last weekend and I learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in this class aboard the Kawasaki KX450F. Tyla Rattray is a veteran, as are a lot of the other guys I was battling with, and I know the more I race with everyone the more I’m going to learn and the better I should get.”
Eli Tomac (2-1 for first):
“We made up a few points today and when Zach [Osborne] got in between me and Roczen in the second moto that helped us even more so it was a really good day in the standings. It was close to getting the sweep. I was right up on Roczen in the final lap (of Moto 1) and I just lost the rear wheel. It would have been really close.
I had a good start in the second moto. You need to be top three around that first turn to have a good chance and we did that. I got up front and put some sprint laps down to try and build a gap, and that’s exactly what happened. It was trouble-free from there on in.
Ken Roczen (1-3 for second):
“Eli (Tomac) rode a great second moto. I have to give him credit for the second moto as I wasn’t able to get up there and battle. I am happy to still get 2nd overall and remain in the points lead heading to the next round.”
Blake Baggett (9-5 for fifth):
“It definitely could have been worse. That first moto wasn’t very fun to have to come through the field like that, but given everything that happened out there, I’ll happily walk away with a top five. It’s still early in the season and there will be plenty of time to make up those points.”
Martin Davalos (7-10 for seventh):
“I’m really excited about what we accomplished. I knew my Kawasaki KX250F was good and I knew I had the fitness to run up there, but Hangtown just didn’t work out in our favor. Thunder Valley showed that all the work we’ve been doing is paying off and I’m so happy to walk away with a top 10 finish.”
Justin Bogle (13-7 for 10th):
“I passed a lot of people today so I really got in some good practice at finding different lines to get through traffic. My helmet was missing an interior piece before the first race and they wouldn’t let me start until we got it fixed. It was a mad scramble, but we finally got it together.
“I didn’t have a great start in the second moto either but I was riding pretty well and got through the field. I probably would have been one or two spots better if the race was 30 seconds longer. We’ll get there.”
Justin Hill (12-11 for 12th):
“This track is tough, but I learned a lot and we’re leaving with a solid day. I’d love to have back-to-back top 10’s to start the season, but I know this summer is going to be a learning process and each week I just want o learn as much as possible and get some solid results.”
THOUGHTS ON LAKEWOOD
By Daryl Ecklund
Lakewood has an elevation of over 5000 feet, which makes this round very different than all the other rounds for two reasons. (1) The rider’s bikes are underpowered at high elevation. (2) Less oxygen in the air allows fatigue to set in for the riders much faster.
Did anyone notice Ryan Villopoto becoming the wheelie king this last weekend? He was on the back of the bike and on his rear-wheel everywhere! With the bikes being underpowered due to the elevation, Ryan adapted to the situation at hand and rode like he was back on a 250F ? making every opportunity count to get the power to the ground by staying back on the bike. This was more than impressive. He and the bike were working as one. Ryan has that bike dialed in and is just growing with confidence each weekend.
Being the hometown hero for the Colorado natives, Eli Tomac came out swinging the second moto. I thought that there was going to be an epic battle between Tomac and Ken Roczen. Being acclimated to the lack of oxygen, it appeared that Tomac wasn’t affected by the conditions for the second moto. Roczen, on the other hand, seemed to struggle. It looked as if he exerted all of his energy the first moto keeping Tomac at bay.
As for Chad Reed, everyone still has faith in the guy, but something has to happen soon. Chad Reed has been under the weather the first two rounds of the outdoors, but hasn’t shown a shed of hope in any way shape or form. I know his results aren’t for a lack of effort, and he has some of the best guys in the business working under the TwoTwo Motorsports awning. However, is this the beginning of the end for Reedy? Can he get on a roll outdoors? I hope so. Everyone is cheering for you, Chad!
RIDE ENGINEERING & FREDRIK NOREN TEAM UP
Press release: The story ? Outdoor National Fans: Root for Fredrik Noren to break the top ten at your local national this year! Similar to last year, Fredrik came to the US about a month before Hangtown, purchased two motorcycles and on a very limited budget makes his way to each race. Noren is hoping to impress a team for a permanent ride in 2014. This year we hooked up with the 24 year old Swede two weeks before Hangtown to see if we could improve his race bike: a bone stock 2013 RMZ450 with Ohlins Suspension and a Pro Circuit pipe. After a day of testing where he could evaluate each component one at a time, we had a very satisfied rider. Noren thought the offset triple clamps helped him put the bike anywhere he wanted to; the Showa steering dampener conversion (just like on a CRF450) allowed him to do laps with less effort; the lowering link gave the rear better traction and the whole bike more stability; and the Ride Engineering Oversized Rotor Kit and Billet Brake Caliper added a very powerful and yet very progressive front brake.
Noren is basically racing the same Ride Engineering bike Motocross Action Magazine tested in the February issue at a National level, except ours didn’t have the Ohlins suspension and we used an FMF pipe: Motocross Action Article.
Good Luck Fredrik!
MINI-VIEW: RICKY CARMICHAEL (Co-owner, RCH Racing)
THIS WEEKEND IS THE FIRST TIME THAT MUDDY CREEK WILL HOST A 450MX NATIONAL EVENT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MUDDY CREEK?
Ricky: It’s the first time that they (Muddy Creek) have held an outdoor National. I grew up racing there in some of the regional events as an amateur. It was a 10- or 12-hour drive for us growing up in Florida. It was always one of those tracks that I enjoyed going to race. I know the promoter (Sam Gammon) of the race really well. He’s done a great job and I’m glad to see him earn an outdoor National. I’m proud for him and I’m excited to get up there. Saturday will be the first outdoor event that I’ve been to this year. I’m stoked. Muddy Creek is awesome. There are a lot of kids that grew up racing there that live on the east coast and it’s an important race for them. I think we’re going to see some great racing. I hear that the track is just killer.
MUDDY CREEK IS THE FIRST RACE EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER THIS SEASON AND THAT’S IMPORTANT TO A LOT OF REGIONAL RACERS.
For sure. I’m interested in seeing the crowd that the race is going to draw. The track is surrounded by a lot of other states and the spectator draw could be huge on Saturday. I’m expecting this weekend to be a huge national event. We’re excited to be there with our Ram/Sycuan Casino/Fox Racing team. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there and I’m stoked to get back and see a lot of old friends and fans. Looking forward to the weekend.
TALK ABOUT THE TEAM THROUGH THE FIRST TWO RACES.
Well, it’s something that we’re not too happy with and we have to change it around fast. Broc Tickle is better than he’s shown so far. I know a team; we’re better than what we’ve shown so far. Things have to and will get better. It’s not for a lack of effort from the team’s side. We’re working hard and we have one of the best programs out there. Broc needs to work hard at getting better. The only thing that we can do is continue to put him in position to succeed and give him the advice he needs to get better results. We have to start getting better results.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP A RIDER’S CONFIDENCE?
I expected more from Broc than two finishes outside of the top 10 this year. His confidence is a lot higher in motocross than it is in Supercross and that’s the reason I’m a little miffed by our sluggish start. Broc should have the confidence in himself, he’s a top five rider in the 450 class. He can race with these guys. I’m sure he’s frustrated with his first two races, but you can’t dwell on those. He just has to keep working harder and we have to give him the tools to succeed. We need to help him get out of the funk that he’s in.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LESLIE WILLIAMS!
Women don’t like to make a big deal over turning another year older; that is, unless they aren’t acknowledged. However, Leslie Williams doesn’t fit either category. A model mother, a marketing master, a kindred soul (you’d have to be to put up with her husband, Scott, who just so happens to be my inspiration for several of my column writings) and an all-around awesome person, Leslie is a dear friend. Today happens to be her birthday. So while we shouldn’t make a big deal over the fact that she’s turning 30, I feel it’s right to give her a Happy Birthday wish. Here’s to another year of staying the same age, Leslie!