Melissa Paris will become the first woman to race at the Phillip Island Classic when she joins Team America’s bid for glory early next year.
Paris, who is married to multiple Superbike champion Josh Hayes, isn’t there to make up the numbers having World Supersport, World Endurance, British Supersport, AMA and Spanish CEV experience on her vast CV. “After hearing what a great time Josh had last January I’m so pumped to go this year,” she said.
Hayes is expected to be a powerhouse for Team America, and the four-time AMA superbike champion – and second on the all-time race winner’s list behind Aussie Mat Mladin – will have fond memories of winning the fourth and final International Challenge race in 2019 on his Yamaha FJ1250.
“In the first race of 2019 I was quite taken back by the level of competition on these classic era bikes. Even got my feelings hurt a few times,” said Hayes of his 2019 Island Classic debut.
When I was able to win the fourth and final Challenge race, and returned to our pit to find the captains of all the other teams there to celebrate alongside us, I knew this was a special event, more about twowheel passion than business, and something that I wanted to continue to be a part of.
“In 2019 I was able to test the Mojo Yamaha a handful of times. Also, I rode in MotoAmerica’s Supersport races at seven events; racing for my wife’s MP13 Racing Yamaha, with her also as my crew chief.
“The 2020 Island Classic is going to be a family event for me this year with my wife, Melissa, and my two-year-old son, Hawk, joining me. Even better is that Melissa will be riding a Mojo Yamaha TZ-750 in the International Classic races.
“With her experience of riding all types of motorcycles, and all over the world, I think she will be a strong asset for the American team. For her and Hawk to get to experience Australia again with me also, is just icing on the cake.”
Dave Crussell will once again captain the 12-rider squad for the International Challenge teams’ event which not only boasts three riders who finished in the top six of the individual standings in 2019 – Hayes, Larry Pegram and Michael Gilbert – but it’s now also added seven-time Canadian superbike champion Jordan Szoke and former AMA front-runner Taylor Knapp to its ever-strengthening roster along with Jorge Gurero, Joe Pethoud, Brian Filo, Bruce Lind and Robert Ruwoldt.
The bike of choice for the majority of the team will again be the Yamaha based CMR FJ 1250, while the Americans also have three potent Yamaha TZ750 at their disposal.