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Q&A: Melissa Paris

“I went into [the Tech 3 MotoGP ride] expecting them to give me maybe 5 laps. Instead they basically filled it with fuel and told me to have fun with it” - Melissa Paris.
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?

Melissa Paris:
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?

Melissa Paris:
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?

Melissa Paris:
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?

Melissa Paris:
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.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Melissa Paris, Valencia MotoGP Test, November 2011
Morning (left) and afternoon (right) lap times from Weds at Barcelona test
Vinales, Zarco, Rossi, French MotoGP 2017
Vinales, French MotoGP 2017
Sasaki, French moto3 race 2017
Canet, French moto3 race 2017
Kent, French moto3 race 2017
Bastianini, French moto3 race 2017
Pulkkinen, French moto3 race 2017
Sasaki, French moto3 race 2017
Start, Moto3, Le Mans
Antonelli, French moto3 race 2017
Bendsneyder, French moto3 race 2017
Kent, French moto3 race 2017
Bastianini, French moto3 race 2017
Canet, French moto3 race 2017
Kornfeil, French moto3 race 2017
Dalla Porta, French moto3 race 2017

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Dutch69Camaro - Unregistered

December 09, 2011 12:34 PM

@Jake. In in ideal world that would be the case, but this has always been the case to some extend. Take a look at Karel Abraham, he is where he is because of his fathers money. He sure does pretty good, no question about it, but there are better riders out there that could be there in his place. Now Melissa might not have a lot of money to bring, but she brings something else to her sponsors. I don't think it is any more of a problem than that of someone who brings money. She is honest about the fact that because she is famale it does open doors...but she also knows that to get to the top it will take a lot more than that...

RonM - Unregistered

December 09, 2011 6:11 PM

Talking about women racers with bottle Jenny Tinmouth has it, Fastest woman ever over the IOM TT course 119mph there are some topline male racers that couldn't post that speed and she quite often shows many male racers what her exhaust pipe looks like in BSB.But good luck to them all if they have the ability,why should it be a male only dominated sport

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