Zach Osborne enters the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season in a good place. Due to an injury that kept him sidelined for part of the 2019 schedule, last year was Osborne’s first full season of Supercross in the premier 450 class.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider got better as the season progressed, and to say he ended the AMA Supercross Series on a high note would be an understatement. He finished on the podium in four of the final six rounds and scored his breakthrough first victory, in the season finale.
Osborne went from one strength to another when he shifted to the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, winning four nationals, two of which were achieved by virtue of 1-1 sweeps, and wrapping up his first premier class 450 title — all while being the oldest champion in the history of the sport at 31.
Osborne’s path to the top was a meandering zigzag unlike that of any previous American champion.
A promising amateur racer, the Virginian found himself without a ride in America after only a couple of seasons as a pro. Osborne then spent five years in Europe pursuing the MX2 World Motocross Championship. He managed to race select events in the states and performed well enough to get another full-time ride here, but it was a long, hard grind for him to claw his way up to the pinnacle of the sport.
“I was sick at the start of the Supercross season with a gnarly flu or something, we really don’t know what it was,” Osborne explained. “I had a fever for 10 days and just couldn’t seem to get well for the longest time, so the lack of time on the bike and training hampered me early on. Then I had a big injury (broken back) right before the coronavirus stop, so that set me back even more.
“I wasn’t even sure I was going to go to Salt Lake (where organizers finished the Supercross season sans fans), but I’ve always been good at altitude (Salt Lake City is over 4,200 feet in elevation), it’s never bothered me and, in the end, I went and started to find some consistency.”
After his late-series Supercross success, there was a seven-week break, waiting for the pandemic to settle down, before the motocross season could get started.
“With that kind of break, it’s hard to say that I still had momentum from winning the Supercross finale,” Osborne said. “But it seemed that way and I was able to get things rolling with two wins right off the bat.”
Osborne was in the thick of the battle for the motocross title when his motorcycle suffered a flat tire at Spring Creek Motocross Park in Millville, Minn., hindering his championship chances.
“Then I bounced right back after Millville and had a strong performance, ripping off a 1-1 at WW Ranch (in Jacksonville, Fla.),” Osborne said. “That put me in the position to win the title by just maintaining decent finishes in the last two rounds in Colorado and Pala (Calif.).”
We caught up with Osborne a little more than a week after he secured the Pro Motocross Championship and placed his name in the record books with the elites of the sport.
“I’ve never been one to worry about records, but it is pretty neat to be the oldest champion ever,” Osborne said, before quickly adding, “I don’t feel like the oldest. I still feel as strong, maybe even fitter than I’ve ever been in my career. That’s the benefit of making it this far into my career with not too many injuries and having the years of knowledge on how to train and prepare properly. I still have a lot in the tank and feel I have a couple of good years left in me.”
Osborne’s crown marks the first time in AMA Pro Motocross history that Husqvarna has won the 450cc class title. Osborne also gave the maker its first championship in the 250cc class in 2017.
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