Hacking Puts Kawasaki Near the Top

Henny Ray Abrams | May 30, 2009

Jamie Hacking did something no other Kawasaki rider had done this year; he made it to Superpole 1. And when he got there, he was joined by Broc Parkes in what was by far Kawasaki’s best World Superbike qualifying effort of the year. That it was done on a partially wet track that was flashed by lightning made it that much more impressive.Hacking came to Miller Motorsports Park as the replacement for the injured Makoto Tamada. He had to learn a new bike, new suspension, and new tires, all with a new team. The approach has been ‘less is more,’ with the team making few changes. It’s a strategy that’s paid off.Hacking beat his good friend and Superpole whiz Ben Spies (Yam) to become the shock fast rider in Superpole 3, the first 12-minute session for the top 20 riders.”I didn’t know I’d done that well (beating Spies), because I spun the rear pretty hard coming out of the last corner. I lost a good bit of time,” he said. “So it would’ve been a little better lap.”But the strategy all along was to get to Superpole 1, which would guarantee a start on the front two rows. Hacking had used the first of his Pirelli qualifiers for one lap in Superpole 3. “I probably could’ve left it with a race tire. I wanted to really put a good low-50 in and I messed up coming out of the last corner and it was close, but I probably wouldn’t have made it.”I come around and everybody was screaming and I was wondering ‘What the hell was going on?’ Yeah, I was excited.”And then going into the second one,” Superpole 2 for 16 riders, “I waited for (Spies) and I was turning around looking at the weather and I turned back and around and he’d charged the last three corners and got away from me. Anyway, my qualifier didn’t turn out to be as good as my first one. Still we made it in.”Obviously the last session (for the fastest eight), we went out on the first qualifier that I only put one lap on, so I went back out on it. And then obviously the conditions were not good enough for me to risk.”Hacking said it was raining in turn one, but stopped on the exit “and coming through two and three it was raining a pretty good bit. Like, you couldn’t really judge how wet the race track was. You could see it hitting your face and hitting your neck and it felt like enough that it would probably be wet, then it would dry coming into four and then a little sprinkle coming into five. And then the wind was gusting was so bad, the dust was really bad across the middle section of the race track. It was pretty sketchy. I can’t believe (Spies) actually put as good a lap in as he did.”Hacking did his two laps and waited. “I didn’t have enough, basically, to improve off of the second row. So I didn’t see any point risking anything.”Still his eighth and Parkes’ season best seventh marked the first time Kawasaki had been in Superpole 1 this season, let alone with two riders.Now Hacking will sit down with the team and decide how much to change the factory Kawasaki ZX10R.”We’ve tried some things in the little bit of time that we have in the beginning of every session. We try a little bit,” he said. “It’s kind of hard for me to evaluate anything. We tried a shock this morning.” He continued. “I know I can run low 50’s on it. Obviously, that’s good enough. So tomorrow we’re going to put the shock back on and run around with it. We know our race set-up if we have to go back to it, so we’re going to go with this shock setting tomorrow and see if we can improve some rear control of the back of the bike and go from there.”

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.