Melissa Paris and the M4 MPH Suzuki program continued to make strides at Round 2 of the 2015 MotoAmerica championship despite a second consecutive weekend of inclement weather.
A soaked Road Atlanta weekend in Braselton, Georgia, followed a similarly wet weekend at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, doing few favors for Paris as she works hard to learn her new GSX-R600 Supersport racebike.
However, she managed to put the Team Hammer Contract Services supported machine into the top ten in the wet opening Supersport practice. Paris then took full advantage of a dry race on Saturday to fight her way up from 14th on the grid to finish in 12th position. She came back out on Sunday to pick up another points-paying result in Sunday’s rainy contest, coming home in 14th.
“I was kind of sad to show up at Atlanta and have more rain,” Paris admitted. “It was only my second weekend on the bike and I was really looking forward to some dry track time. In the past, I’ve always liked the rain. I’ve always felt I’m pretty good in those conditions and it’s a good opportunity to get a good result, but enough is enough.
“But in the end, we got one dry race and one wet race. And considering my time on the bike, I’m pretty happy with how things went. My mechanic and I made some positive changes to the set-up, and I’m getting more and more comfortable on it. A 12th and 14th isn’t anything to throw a party about, but we’re making solid progress and that makes me really excited for the rest of the season.”
Despite her relative lack of seat time on the ’15 GSX-R600, Paris credits her recent racing experience with allowing her to quickly adapt to the bike. “The last couple of years I’ve ridden just about everything under the sun, which has helped in this situation. The program came together so late I didn’t have a chance to test the bike, but that experience has allowed me to stay calm. With the Team Hammer Contract Services crew, we know we have a solid machine to start with and it’s just a matter of me riding it.”
She added, “I like the GSX-R600. It’s pretty mellow and does everything pretty well. It’s really nice — last year in the Spanish CEV championship I was riding a Superstock 600 bike in a Moto2 field. Being able to stay in the draft down the back straight at Road Atlanta was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a while. It’s really nice to know the machine won’t hold me back. I’m excited to see what we can do once I get my legs underneath me.”
Melissa Paris and the M4 MPH Suzuki team will be back in action on May 15-17 as the nation’s top road racers will return to Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia, following a several year layoff.
“I’m looking forward to going back to VIR,” she said. “I haven’t been there since 2010. The track was always really challenging for me because it’s very physical. But I feel like I’m a lot better rider now and a lot stronger, so it’ll be good to see how I like it now.”