To Melissa Paris, racing motorcycles is a genderless activity. The motorcycle doesn’t care if you’re male or female – what matters is beating the person in front of you. She’s carried this mindset throughout her racing career. She hadn’t even ridden a motorcycle until the old (in motorcycle terms) age of 20, but she took to it like a fish to water and rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a regular fixture at AMA, then MotoAmerica competition – beating plenty of men along the way.
Four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes turned pro in 1996. So, he’s been around the AMA Roadracing paddock long enough to have experienced the good times of American roadracing before the DMG debacle and the global financial collapse. Given that experience and the fact that he’s the reigning Superbike champ, we buttonholed him at the Yamaha Champions Induction to find out his thoughts on the ongoing changes to his racing series now that MotoAmerica has taken over the reins. Hayes’ answers reflect his experience and his hopes for the role he will play in the near and distant future.
Rules are rules when it comes to racing, but Yamaha’s new YZF-R1 – the star of EICMA 2014 for some of us – doesn’t have to follow any of them. Things get coy when you ask how much horsepower a factory Superbike makes, and Yamaha USA doesn’t even care to divulge horsepower numbers for an off-the-shelf R1. Its European counterparts, though, make no bones about it: 200 PS, they say, which is about 197 crankshaft horsepower in a 439-pound package that looks a lot like the one Vale rides.