Kawasaki MotoGP technical...
Kawasaki MotoGP technical director Ichiro Yoda liked what he saw in Hacking, and wanted the AMA veteran to ride as a wild card at the following Brno GP. Unfortunately, that race was on the same weekend as the VIR AMA round, and Kawasaki USA nixed the idea.
Exiting the Corkscrew he picked up the throttle, shifted gears, "and it just drove the front right out from under me. Just lost it there, through Rainey (Curve). Pretty loaded up corner there and just washed the front end out." The lap would have been his fastest. Instead he slid into the gravel and had to scramble to get back to the pits. "I just explained to them that I overrode the front of the bike. They were just agreeing with me. It was a little upsetting that I couldn't put in a good, decent qualifying position. And I think we could've easily knocked a second off what we had. So that would have put me in the low 22s." Unfortunately, Hacking would have to start his first Grand Prix from the back row; he was 17th on the grid, but with a time that was 1.2 seconds quicker than his teammate West, the last rider on the grid.
Hopkins had told Hacking that Laguna Seca is one of the worst tracks for heating up the tires, "so I was really tentative in the first laps to try and get some heat in the tires and just make sure I got settled in. I knew once I got settled in that I could run low 23s like no tomorrow." Once he had heat in the tires, "they just start sticking really well, the lean angle is just incredible. After three or four laps the tires come up to temperature and you can definitely start screwing the throttle on and seems like more and more every lap. You get a little bit more used to it and open the throttle earlier and I'd go around and the next corner I'd open the throttle a little bit earlier.
"At the beginning there...when I took a little time, we're dealing with some of the fastest guys in motorcycle racing, so giving those guys a little bit of time is a lot. I managed to get around a few guys at the back and once I got around those guys and set my sights on the pack that was ahead of me, it was a pretty good distance I had to close in. Once I closed down on those guys, I just picked them off one by one."
Hacking moved into tenth behind his friend (and fellow temporary MotoGP rider) Ben Spies on the 13th of 32 laps. The tires dropped off a little bit at mid-race and then came right back. Hacking's fastest lap was the 18th , and the next lap he closed the gap to .225 seconds on Spies.
"I was running low 23's, and caught those guys in front of me, and when I got up to them, I could see from my lap charts that the two laps I got up on those guys I became a second slower on my times," Hacking said. "Once I got around them and got up on Ben, I think he sort of realized he needed to pick the pace up a little bit. I managed to stay with him. We had some good racing there together, close. I wasn't able to step it up to go past him. Once he stepped it up, he was running outside the range that I wanted to stay in comfortably. I wasn't able to make any attempt of a pass on him. He stepped it up a couple more tenths after that and that's when he pulled the gap on me."
Hacking could see Alice Ducati's Toni Elias coming. The Spaniard picked up his early pace and passed Hacking on the 24th lap. Then San Carlo Honda Gresini's Shinya Nakano "came on strong at the end and nipped me for 10th there. It looked like I was closing in on Nakano at the end, but I just ran out of time. I think I did a great job coming from dead last to 11th place." After the race, Elias came to Spies' motor home to compliment Hacking and Spies on their riding.