Jamie Hacking to make GP debut at Laguna Seca
AMA Superbike star, Jamie Hacking, will make his MotoGP debut in this year’s USGP at Laguna Seca, after being drafted into the Kawasaki Racing Team as a temporary replacement for the injured John Hopkins.
A three-time AMA champion, Hacking has racked up six podium finishes already in this year’s ultra-competitive AMA Superbike championship, making him the ideal choice to stand in for Hopkins while the Anglo-American recovers from the injuries sustained in a high-speed qualifying crash ahead of the Dutch TT at Assen.
Although a US citizen now, 37-year-old Hacking was born in the Lancashire mill town of Oswaldtwistle in the North of England and only moved to the United States at the age of nine years, when his father secured a job in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
And it was in America that ‘the Hacker’ got serious about racing, contesting junior motocross events all over the South-Eastern United States and winning almost every race he entered. In 1994 Hacking made the switch to road racing aboard a Kawasaki ZX-7R and made an instant impression by crashing out of his first race!
Hacking made his AMA debut in 1997, again aboard a Kawasaki, and took pole position in his very first Supersport qualifying session. In 1998 he secured the AMA Rookie of the Year award and in 2003 he won the first of two AMA Supersport titles, the second coming in 2006 when he was also crowned AMA Superstock champion.
A move to Kawasaki in 2007 brought two Supersport race wins aboard the ZX-6R as well as five Superbike podium finishes. This season Hacking has focussed solely on the Superbike class and, with six podium finishes to his name so far this season, currently lies fourth in the championship standings.
The highly experienced AMA Superbike rider broke the lap record during two days of testing at Autopolis this week, aboard the Ninja ZX-RR machine he will race at Laguna. As a result, he heads for the USGP determined to match, or even exceed, the performance of his Kawasaki teammate, Roger Lee Hayden, who brought the Ninja ZX-RR home in an impressive tenth place in last year’s race.
“I’m really excited about riding Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR in the USGP at Laguna Seca. We’ve just completed two days of testing with the bike in Japan, and I felt pretty comfortable straight away. It’s an amazing machine. I can’t believe how sophisticated the electronics package is on the bike; already it feels like you can open the gas impossibly early out of the turns, but the data shows that it’s actually possible to open the throttle even earlier. To do this requires some confidence in the electronics, and that confidence will only come with more track time on the bike. Roger Lee set the benchmark at this race last year with an outstanding tenth place finish, so that’s certainly given me something to aim for. Laguna is one of my best tracks, but I’m under no illusions how hard it’s going to be. I’ll be up against some of the best riders in the world on a bike on which I’ve only had limited testing time. If I come away from the weekend with a top ten finish, then I’ll be happy.”
Kawasaki Competition Manager
“Given his results in this year’s AMA Superbike championship, Jamie was the obvious choice for Kawasaki when the factory started looking for a temporary replacement for John Hopkins. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do on our bike at Laguna Seca, especially after he broke the lap record at Kawasaki’s Autopolis circuit in Japan during two days of testing on the Ninja ZX-RR this week. One big advantage that Jamie has is that he knows the track extremely well, and I think that will count in his favour, as it will allow him to focus completely on the bike during the race weekend. Roger Lee set a hard target last year by finishing as the first American across the line in tenth place, but I’m sure that Jamie is heading to the USGP determined to do even better! I’m sure that he will do a good job for us at Laguna.”