By Lisa Crouch
Melissa Paris is one of a handful of high-profile female racers and despite only taking up racing at 21, her natural talent has led her to wild-card rides in World Supersport and British Supersport, complimenting her career in the AMA Sportbike series.
Then, in November, the 28-year old American was given the dream opportunity to test a Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP bike at Valencia (pictured) - which her husband Josh Hayes had raced, as a stand-in for the injured Colin Edwards, just days earlier.
Here Paris talks about how it feels to ride a factory-built MotoGP bike, what it's like to be a woman in a male dominated sport, and her hopes for next season...
You were originally meant to be testing the Tech 3 Moto2 bike, how did feel to be offered to ride the M1 instead?
It was really surprising to be honest! People have been giving me a hard time when they read that maybe I was just a little disappointed at first. Trust me, I was ecstatic for the chance to ride the M1. I was just a touch sad about not
getting to ride the Moto2 bike. I'm greedy! I want to try them all!
Did seeing Josh ride the M1 to 7th place during the Valencia Grand Prix make you more nervous or more determined to do well when you got the chance to ride?
Watching Josh didn't really change anything for me. His situation is always going to be different than mine and this was no exception. I can't imagine the pressure he must have felt, although to be fair, he heaped most of it on himself.
How did riding a MotoGP bike compare to the production bikes you are more familiar with racing?
The M1 is pretty different to the R6 I usually ride. There is definitely the trickle down of technology, which is why grand prix racing is so important to the development of consumer bikes, but at the end of the day, they are two different animals. I used to race 125 and 250 and it was definitely closer to that. When I think of riding any sort of grand prix bike I can't help but smile. They just feel 'right'.
How did you find your time with the Tech 3 team? How much work did you have to put in to get to test for them and did you get to give much input from your time on the M1?
I don't know all of the details of how the opportunity came together, except that Yamaha US worked really hard to put it all together. The Yamaha Tech 3 squad was amazing. Every single member of the team was so friendly and awesome. They were so generous with everything.