Following a pair of wet rounds to kick off the 2015 season, M4 MPH Racing Suzuki’s Melissa Paris took full advantage of a dry weekend at Virginia International Raceway to continue to adapt to her new racebike.
With top-level national racing absent from the raceway for several seasons, Paris had not raced at VIR since 2010. However, she quickly settled back in the groove around the twisting circuit, dropping more than two seconds off her morning practice time during provisional qualifying. Paris locked down the 13th spot on the Supersport grid following final qualifying, posting a best time of 1:32.271 aboard the Team Hammer Contract Services-supported GSX-R600.
From there Paris logged 14th and 15th-place results, respectively, in Saturday and Sunday’s Supersport contests. She demonstrated her continual progress in Sunday’s race, turning her best lap of the weekend on her final lap, at 1:31.862.
“I thought the races were very challenging for me,” said Paris. “I think we made some progress but I was hoping for better results. I went a little faster than I ever have at VIR before and the team did a great job. It was our first dry race and we benefitted from the dry track time with our set-up. I was a little nervous about VIR when I saw it back on the schedule because it is a hard track for me. I knew it was going to be tough. The good thing is I think we are ready to make more steps in the right direction. From here on out, I feel a lot more confident.
“One thing I am working on is getting more aggressive on the starts,” she added. “I was hoping to latch on to a group in front of me both times out but it didn’t happen. Then for 23 laps, you get to think about the first five seconds of the race when you could have done something about it.”
In addition to the valuable dry-track seat time Paris enjoyed during the weekend that promises to pay further dividends as her campaign progresses, those points-paying finishes at VIR upped her 2015 tally to 12 points, good enough for 15th in the title standings.
Melissa Paris and the M4 MPH Racing Suzuki team will be back in action later this month, as the series heads to the high-speed Road America venue in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on May 29-31.