Hacking to Make MotoGP Debut

Henny Ray Abrams | July 16, 2008

Monster Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking can’t wait for practice to start for the combined AMA/MotoGP weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Not only will he be attempting to extend his string of six podiums in a row in the AMA Superbike Championship, but he’ll also be making his MotoGP debut on the ZXRR. Less than two weeks ago, and at the age of 37, Hacking was drafted onto the MotoGP team to replace his fellow Anglo-American, the injured John Hopkins, on the factory Kawasaki ZXRR in Monterey. What followed was a quick two-day test at Kawasaki’s Autopolis test track in Japan, where he set the lap record. Now comes Laguna Seca, where he’ll be facing off against the best motorcycle road racers in the world, a group which this weekend includes his close friend Ben Spies. Spies and Hacking are both doing double duty in AMA and MotoGP, but Hacking said the AMA Superbike Championship is the more important race. Still, he can’t wait to roll down the pit lane on the ZXRR when MotoGP practice begins at 10:00 a.m. Friday morning. “It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream come true,” Hacking said in a phone call from Monterey, where he’d already arrived on Tuesday. “It’s not a dream of mine that’s been set, but now that reality’s here, and I’m going to get to ride the most premier motorcycle racing class in the world in front of the home crowd, on a racetrack that I really enjoy a lot.” Hacking was thankful of the “opportunity that Kawasaki’s given me. If those guys wouldn’t have hired me in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this position to be riding this bike and probably would never even get a chance to have ridden one. I owe those guys the world and really want those guys to understand that I really appreciate everything that they’ve done for me and just the opportunity to ride this bike. I think it’s just a thrill.” As for being intimidated by the ZXRR, Hacking said, “To me it’s just a motorcycle. I think all my friends and family are more excited for the whole deal than I am. It’s just a motorcycle to me and I’m going to go do my job and see what I can do.” Part of Hacking’s preparation for this weekend was watching the German Grand Prix last weekend. Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner won that race in a driving rain after Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the race and championship lead. “You just got to love the MotoGP championship,” Hacking said. “They have all kinds of conditions, and everybody tries so hard and they put 110% on the line every weekend. You get a lot of riders making mistakes and it just opens the championship up real wide and makes for a lot of exciting racing.” As to who was going to emerge on top, he or Spies, Hacking repeated something he’d said late last week. “The main thing for me is just to go have fun and enjoy myself and just be safe,” he said. “The main goal for us is the AMA Superbike right now. The results will speak for themselves and we’ll just race and do the best we can.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.