Overall round winners Osborne and Ferrandis on Saturday's victories.
Current Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship leaders Zach Osborne (450MX) and Dylan Ferrandis (250MX) achieved timely double-wins at WW Motocross Park on Saturday, extending their advantages with just two rounds in the season remaining. Both riders spoke to the media post-race via Zoom press conferences.
Zach, your fourth overall victory of the season and second time going 1-1 to extend your lead in the championship to 29 points. How was your day and how do you feel heading into the final two rounds of the season?
Today was obviously really good. I mean, it was kind of what I had to do in the grand scheme of things to swing it back in my direction and make it happen. Last weekend was a huge disappointment, to have a weekend like that at a pivotal time in the championship and after a weekend off, so it was nice to come out today and win.
You mentioned a shock change on the podium and a few weeks ago when you were on PulpMX, you talked about not really changing things, just riding and being comfortable. What brought that change on?
Just some stuff that the guys have been seeing and, just with the tracks not being quite as deep and rough this year, it was something that I needed to do to just kind of calm the back of my bike down a little bit, with it not being as deep and it not pulling the bike down as much. It was just a little bit more dancy than what they wanted to see, so they thought that they had something for me. They sent it to me and I tried it on Thursday, it was super-positive, so I went racing with it.
Has your strategy changed to more of a defensive standpoint with only four motos left?
No. At one point a couple weeks ago I kind of was, but with what happened last week and then just kind of losing a bunch of points and, you know, now it’s back to 29 or whatever… I’m not trying to send it to win motos, but at the same time I don’t want to let any points get away that are there for the taking, so it’s a little bit of both.
Because this was the first real hot round, did you have a strategy to try to keep some left in the tank so that you could charge the last eight minutes? That first moto you ended up charging and getting through a couple people to win. The second moto, with Tomac all over you, you kind of did the same thing – you had a second wind to push forward.
No. For us, this is kind of what we ride in and what we train in, so it was much the same feeling as what we have on a Tuesday at the track. There’s not really a lot of saving any at the front of the 450 Class – if you’re gonna go out there, you’ve got to be all in. Maybe I saved a little bit there when I saw Eli start to creep up, just to kind of have something left to fight with at the end, but realistically there’s not much saving going on at the front.
All year you’ve been talking about how you’re not thinking about the title and it’s getting down to crunch-time. Is it starting to creep in, a little bit of, ‘hey, I could possibly be a 450 national champion at the end of this year’… are you starting to feel it a little bit?
Yeah, I mean, today was a lot of pressure for me just because it was kind of a swing day whether it was going to go my way or a different way. For sure, there’s two weeks left in the season, four motos and I have a decent gap, so it’s not like management time yet, like I said earlier, but I’m definitely trying to keep a good gap going into the last race and just kind of have my stuff together.
In that first moto you made the move on both Adam [Cianciarulo] and Chase [Sexton] on the same lap, so was that a case of that moto just coming to you as it went on or how would you reflect upon that?
Yeah, we were pretty hot and heavy there at the beginning, like the first 20 minutes, and I knew that it was going to have to cool down at some point because I was already starting to feel it. I knew that they were as well and then I started to see them get a little bit kind of sloppy or maybe a little bit tired. I would just kind of put the attack on… I really didn’t think I was going to go around the outside of Chase like that because we had a little run-in last weekend, so I was a little nervous when I went to pass him, but I was able to make the pass. I don’t even remember with AC… oh, I just got a run on him out of that back section going to the step-up and was able to make the pass, so it just kind of all unfolded in front of me and I was able to attack there at the end.
In the second moto, it was kind of the opposite where you had Eli coming onto you. You were able to respond and remain composed, I suppose, especially on that final lap. Were you aware that it was Tomac and was there any thought of letting him have it because you’d still get the overall or is it a case of every point counts?
It was a little bit of both. I mean, I wasn’t going to throw it away, but at the same time I wanted those three points bad because that’s a big cushion, a big gap, so for me it was important to hold him off. I could see him coming for like five laps, I knew he was on a roll, I knew what I needed to do to keep him behind me. He got really close there that one time because he took the inside of the split lane going after the mechanics area and I actually thought he had made the pass, but I kind of moved over on him and he didn’t have the line, so I was able to take it into the last lap. I think he made a mistake somewhere because I couldn’t hear him there at the end and then I was able to take the win.
The first moto start, you had a pretty good jump out of the gate. Had a little bit of a gap on everybody. Then Adam reeled it back in. You guys were neck and neck going to the holeshot stripe. How was that for you? What a way to start the race because you know right there is the guy you have to race against.
Yeah, it was close because we almost came together right at the line and that’s when I knew it was kind of on – he was racy and I was feeling racy as well, we were just both trying to make something happen, so it was nice to come away with that first moto win. My starts have been really good all season, so I’m happy with that. Starts are something that I’ve not always been as consistent as some of the other guys with, so to find some consistency with that is really awesome for me.
The first half of that first moto, were you thinking you were still in it… the two guys ahead, AC and Sexton pulled away a little bit, so were you managing it? Were you worried they were getting away? Were you planning a second-half attack? Take me through the strategy.
Well, I was managing it for a while and then we caught a pack of four lappers, they went right by them and I caught them in the middle of the track where it was a little bit tighter, so it was hard for me to navigate them as quickly as they did. Then they pulled what I thought was four or five seconds and I was like, ‘oh man, they’ve broken the tow, it’s going to be hard to get back to them’. But then they started to make some small mistakes and I was able to reel it back. I felt like I kind of had some legs to go with there at the end and I was able to just kind of open the throttle and go to the front.
How do you stay within the moment in a moto like that? That was obviously huge for the championship because Adam had won the last two races and closed down. How do you focus on each lap and each section of the track and not think when you’re behind, ‘oh man, what’s this going to do for points?’ and then when you get ahead, same thing?
That’s the razor’s edge that we ride – it’s not something that you can manage lap to lap. I knew going there today that I needed to go out there and make a statement and win both motos if I could. I’ve only done that one time in my career, so I was feeling the pressure a little bit today to go out and make it happen. It’s just one of those things where I would compare it to like, being a sniper or something – they just wait for that moment for a long, long time and then you go for it. So, that’s kind of what I was doing in the first moto was just waiting on my moment and it came. I mean, it was this close to not coming because the lappers, trying to get back to them was really tough. Once I made contact I was like, ‘now I can go’. It’s hard actually, especially at the front of the 450 Class to just pass someone, you can’t just make that happen, you almost have to come with a run and take that momentum and go by them. So, for me, once I got back to them, I had some decent speed going and I was able to make the pass and make it happen.
Same thing, when you win that moto that’s big, as you said on the podium, ‘Mr Momentum’ starts to go back your way, but you’ve got to recover and you haven’t done anything if you can’t replicate that in moto two or you’ll give those points right back. How do you not celebrate too much, not take too much confidence from it and not get ahead of yourself?
Historically, I’m better in the second motos. I’ve struggled a little bit here and there with arm-pump and the last couple weeks that’s been a lot better for me. I struggled really bad at Indiana with seventh in the first moto, so for me, once I got through the first moto, especially with the win, I was like, ‘okay, now I’m gonna be fine’. The second moto I just feel more open, I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or what, but it takes me a while to get my body opened up and going.
After the disappointment of last week, how excited were yourself and the team after that second moto? It was a huge result.
Yeah, it was, it was. Obviously, we were all bummed about last weekend, they were super-bummed that they wanted me to come in and I did not see them. I feel like I’m one of the most aware people of the things that are going on around me when I’m riding and, somehow, I did not see them. So, to rebound and bounce back for the boys and win for myself as well was big today.
Dylan, third time going 1-1 for the overall win this season and you extended your lead to 13 points in the championship. I imagine overall you have to be pretty happy with your day and how do you feel heading into the final rounds?
For sure, really happy, was good to get back-to-back double moto wins and good for the championship also. I was able to start to make a small gap, which is really important at this moment of the season. It was a really hard day, but we all knew that before coming to the Florida round. I felt good all day, gave everything I had and I’m really stoked.
We’re about to head back to a couple tracks that, in theory, probably favor you going to elevation at Lakewood, where the Yamaha’s very strong and then going to Pala where you put in a fair share of laps. Are you more confident going into these last two rounds now that maybe there’s somewhat of a slight advantage or do you think there’s an advantage?
No. Like I said, I think last weekend I had kind of a similar question. I did well last year on some tracks and this year I did not, and opposite, I did bad the last three years and did well at Millville, so I think it’s just on the race day it’s about feeling good on the race day and getting a good start and see how the other riders perform. At Thunder Valley, yeah, the altitude can help with the bike, but we saw everybody has a good bike. Our bike maybe is slightly more powerful, but at the end we saw J-Mart [Jeremy Martin] won RedBud with his bike. I just think the difference is not there, I think the difference is on the race day how you feel and the start you get or the speed you have – it’s more that. And Pala, that is not my favorite track, even if I train there every week, on the race day the conditions are really different, so not real advantage. I think it’s like J-Mart said last week, Millville is his home track, but on the race day it’s so much different than what you practice on, so we’ll see – I’m just going to ride like every other track.
Going into today, three-point difference, you come out, you’re fastest in qualifying, fastest in the first moto by like two seconds, maybe more, fastest in the second moto by almost a second… Just a perfect day. Was this a day where you came into the day like, ‘I have to make a statement, I have to throw it down today and take command’?
Yes, of course, every race I show up with that mindset. For sure, at this point of the season… before today we were really close with Jeremy and it was him or me, so lucky I did and I build this gap, so it’s very good. There’s two more rounds, two times 50 points to get, so a lot can happen. For sure, I’d rather have a 13-point lead than 13 points behind.
Do you look at stats like that after the race or is that just left for us?
No, I look, just out of curiosity. From my riding, I felt that I was on it today, I felt that I could push more if I needed, so when I have this feeling, I feel like I’m faster. So yeah, I saw the lap-times and everything, it’s very good and I’m very happy.
How much tougher was the track in moto two? I think the pace was four seconds a lap slower.
Yeah, this track, the layout is really difficult physically. The waves section, it’s killer and you had the heat and the humidity that makes it a really, really hard place to ride. But yeah, I don’t know why we were so much slower compared to moto one. It’s often like this… I tried to remember why, but I think it’s just the bumps and the ruts and the track getting more bumpy, so that makes us slower, probably, but I don’t remember why we were so slower – it’s weird. Anyway, the track was really, really demanding physically today.
As a former grand prix rider, still on the 250 obviously at the moment, how much would you say you’ve progressed as a rider over the past few years being in the US, especially outdoors?
A lot, I think I’ve progressed a lot, but I think I would’ve progressed the same if I did stay in Europe because of just the experience, the learning and everything. It’s more the people that I met in the US, the people I work with and what they helped me to achieve, I think I was really lucky to find the right person and yeah… I guess it would be the same in Europe, but for sure, like today, my experience in Europe riding sand tracks was definitely a big help because even if the track was not that much sand, the technique was pretty similar and I think it helped me a lot today.