Today we met with Melissa Paris to bring you this interview with the Californian rider.
Melissa is a woman who regularly competes in the AMA Motorsport Championship, among her most distinguished achievements includes being the first woman to qualify for the World Supersport Championship, or have been the only girl who tests the Yamaha M1 MotoGP. Last year Melissa crossed the pond to participate with Team Stratos, in our national championship (CEV Repsol), in the Superstock class. Where she managed to finish the season with a magnificent fifth place. After getting three fourth places this season.
CHICAS VELOCES: 1-You are the only girl who tested with the Tech 3 Yamaha M1. What did you feel when you were riding it? It was difficult to ride it? Tell us a little bit more of this bike ;)
MELISSA PARIS: When we went to Valencia, we originally thought I would be testing the Tech 3 Moto 2 bike. Once we arrived though, Herve Poncheral, the team owner said I could ride the M1 instead. You can imagine I was pretty excited about that!!! I was watching my husband race the bike all weekend... and it was his first time to ride it, so of course all weekend I was hearing how challenging it was. I think I was expecting it to be nearly unrideable. It was kind of funny because as they were preparing the bike for me to ride I noticed that they had left the carbon brake discs on it. Usually when they let people test the bikes they put stainless steel discs on... but Herve said I should experience the bike exactly as it was raced. I thought that was pretty cool. The thing that was so rare about it was how well the bike fit me. I'm so used to being really small on a production bike. But GP bikes are made for a small pilot, so that was pretty cool. There really is no way to describe what the bike felt like. It was so different to anything else I have experienced. I think the most impressive thing was how fast it can move through the gears and how the front wheel doesn't want to stay on the ground! The track was still a bit damp and as I was riding I kept thinking, "Just don't crash this thing!” . In retrospect I wish I had ridden it a little harder. I think all they could do is say, "You crashed the bike...You can never ride it again" when in truth I will probably never have that opportunity again anyway! (Argues laughing)
CH.V: 2-You are the first girl who classified in Supersport. What has been the best moment you have in this Championship? What do you think about the motorbike you used there?
M.P: When I qualified for World Supersport in 2009 it was a big deal for me personally because before that I had only competed in one professional race. It was really intimidating because I had a lot of people around me, some who are very close and important to me, telling me not to do it... They thought it would be impossible to even qualify and that I would embarrass myself. But there was something inside of me that felt it was a challenge I wanted to take. Not so that I could be the first woman... but just for myself, so I could push myself and really see what I was capable of. My Dad really stood behind me on that one, and that made all of the difference. In the end, I was fastest of all five of the Wild Card riders. It felt so good to know that I had done that... During the race, on the very first lap though, my engine blew up. I remember feeling that it was the biggest disappointment ever. I was really hoping that I could at least learn some things during the race from world championship riders.
CH.V: 3-You are the first/only girl has done many things in the world of two wheels. How do you feel to be a very important woman in motorcycling?
M.P: To me, racing has never been about being the first girl to do anything. I just want to do things because I want to do them. I think if I was a boy it would be the same. I grew up in a family with so many brothers and I never got special treatment just because I was the baby girl of the family. I had to do all the same chores as my brothers and I also got to do all the same sports as them. I think if anything, racing has made me realize that not all girls are raised that way. I was very lucky that my parents never put a limit on me because I was a girl.
CH.V: 4-When will we see you in a Motogp race? What do you expect this year?
M.P: I think right now my experience level is no where close to where it needs to be. Right now I am mainly racing on a 600 in our national championship. I am starting to race in some local races on a 1000 though, and I am really enjoying that challenge. In a lot of ways I feel like riding a 1000 is easier than a 600.
CH.V: 5-What do you think about the differentiation of categories between men and women? Do you think that women need to race in a different category and mans in other, or both in the same?
M.P: No I absolutely do not think women need their own category. I think when you give a special category to the girls you are sending the message that you don't believe they are good enough to compete with men. I don't believe that at all.
CH.V: 6-Have you ever have any impediment to race for being a woman? What will you say to a woman that wants to start riding a bike?
M.P: For me I have never experienced a real impediment. Maybe once in a while someone is a jerk or says something nasty, but I think that will happen everywhere, not just in motorsports. If a woman wants to start riding a bike, she should just do it. Being a girl shouldn't have anything to do with it at all!