Hacking Off to Europe

Henny Ray Abrams | June 17, 2009

Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki’s Jamie Hacking’s World Superbike adventure continues this weekend at Misano Adriatico, Italy when the series resumes after a two-weekend hiatus following the U.S. round at Miller Motorsports Park.Hacking didn’t get the final OK from Kawasaki U.S. until Tuesday, not long before he boarded a plane for Italy. Knowing of the possibility he would ride, we spoke to him at Road America ten days ago, soon after the World Superbike team made the announcement, but before he’d gotten his release from the U.S. team. Because of a lack of communication between Kawasaki U.S. and the Paul Bird Motorsports team, which runs Kawasaki’s WSB effort, that release didn’t come until yesterday.”I’m excited,” Hacking said at the end of the Road America weekend. “I’m really thrilled to be part of the World Superbike team and get the opportunity to do that. I don’t know, it’s kind of like it’s almost like a relief, a breather. It’s almost like a vacation with a nice white sandy beach and blue waters and got the lounge chair and a cold beer sitting there by the side. That’s really how I look at it. So I’m really forward to doing it.”Hacking brought smiles to the crew when he performed better than either of their permanent riders at MMP. First he put the team in the final round of Superpole, as did Broc Parkes, for the first time. Then he finished seventh in the first race, three better than Parkes had managed through the first five races and much better than Makoto Tamada, the rider he replaced. The second race was less successful and he finished out of the points. But that didn’t deter the team from offering him the chance to replace the injured Tamada in the following two races. Tamada injured his wrist and broke fingers at a crash in Monza, Italy last month.”It wasn’t pretty much immediately after the race, but I definitely had some pretty good leads,” Hacking said of when he got word his World Superbike foray would continue. “They were showing pretty good interest in me doing it. They said the whole team hadn’t smiled that much all year long. They liked the enthusiasm that I brought to the team and everybody just had a good time. They go, ‘Man, you really brought the whole team up…and we’d love to have you on.’ And I told them I’d love to have another go at the bike.”The PBM team is based in the UK, which is where Hacking was born and where much of his family still lives. His crew chief Neil Freeman is also British. Hacking said he was able to bond with the team because he knows their humor and that they both want results and want “to improve their bike and looking forward to doing it and, obviously, Misano’s going to be a new race track for me. Obviously, Donington’s going to be a new race track, but I’m going to have a lot of fans at Donington. My whole family’s going to be there, which is going to be pretty neat. They’ve actually never gotten to see me race on home turf before. They’ve come to America to see me race, but never on (their) home turf, so I think they’re as excited as I am.”Hacking’s clan is from Oswaldtwistle in the northern England county of Lancashire near Blackburn, the hometown of Carl Fogarty. Ostwaldtwistle is about 115 miles north of Donington Park.Hacking was putting in time on his Playstation to prepare for the two races. His close friend Ben Spies knows Donington Park-he raced the Rizla Suzuki in last year’s MotoGP race-but Spies hasn’t been to Misano.”Ben (Spies) talked with me, he goes, ‘We’re going to look like a pair of idiots that don’t know where we’re going. So we’ll pal up together at Misano and kind of ride around and see if we can’t help each other out.'”As for Donington, Spies said, “Just jump behind me and I’ll show you around a little bit.” Hacking’s crew chief Neil Freeman has raced at Donington and believes Hacking will catch on quickly. It’s the “kind of a race track that if you do mess up a corner it pretty much just screws the whole lap,” Hacking said. “We have a couple of those racetracks here. Barber’s one of those. You’ve got to put everything together. Laguna’s like that. Those racetracks take years to perfect, but those are always the ones that end up being my favorite.”Learning new tracks comes easily to Hacking, but learning the WSB riders was difficult. Hacking ran into problems in the first turn in both legs at MMP and admits that it was his fault for not knowing how they ride.”Seems like this series here (AMA), over the last few years, the first couple of laps here are very hard, the pace has been really fast here. And it seems like those (WSB) guys want to figure things out the first couple of laps and then it’s on after. But hopefully I can figure ‘em out some more and know now to be a little more cautious into turn one. But the rest of the guys, I never had a problem with any of them passing them, or stuff like that. Yeah it’s just something else to learn.” Hacking did have a problem with Team Pedercini’s Luca Scassa (Kaw), the Italian who he ran into in race two. The collision sent Hacking off the track, while Scassa crashed at about 120 mph, breaking his left foot. He expects to race in Misano.Following the Donington Park race Hacking has to return straight back to the U.S. for the seventh round of the AMA Pro Road Race Series that supports the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the weekend after Donington.

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.