Josh Hayes to Ride YZR-M1 in Valencia

Henny Ray Abrams | October 4, 2011


Yamaha USA is thanking Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes for riding his motorcycle and not riding others by riding yet another.The two-time AMA Superbike Champion will ride Colin Edwards’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 during the annual MotoGP test that follows the last round of the championship at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.Yamaha race boss Keith McCarty arranged the one-off ride to thank Hayes for his two Superbike titles, but also for being professional when McCarty denied him the chance to race in World Supersport this year.”It’s a nice opportunity,” Hayes said in a Skype video chat from Wales, where he was staying with World Supersport Champion Chaz Davies.

“My understanding is Yamaha America wanted to do something nice for me; I’ve brought them two championships. I had to turn away one opportunity to do a World Championship race in World Supersport earlier in the season and Keith [McCarty] just wanted… I think when it happened, I think he felt bad turning me down because we had these championship aspirations going on and it was a business decision he had to make, but he understood my wanting to do that and he said, ‘I’m going to try to work something out for you to say thank you and kinda do something nice for me, basically.'”I believe he got together with Monster and Yamaha and Herve [Poncharal, owner of the Tech 3 team] and those guys and tried to put it together and it looks like it’s going to work out. They called me a couple weeks ago to tell me about it. I’m excited about it and it’ll be fun.”For Hayes, it’s the “perfect way to go about experiencing a GP bike. As a professional motorcycle racer, one of the things I was a little bummed about was that I might not ever get to ride the top technology that there is in motorcycle racing, to experience that.”Hayes said there was a chance he might have been called as a replacement rider when the MotoGP regulars were threatening to boycott last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

“Early in the year, around Laguna time, several riders in the MotoGP paddock announced they may not go,” McCarty said. “There may be some vacancies, so who knows what they’re going to do? Again, this was a very fluid situation. We were looking at all the different things. Again, it was fun to talk about. When you stop and look at all opportunities, this one makes the most sense. It’s after the season, he’s on emotional high, he gets to ride the bikes at the end of their era and enjoy the event itself. I think it’s perfect scenario for him and us too.”Hayes agreed, saying “It’s just an opportunity to go ride the machine, no pressure, have some fun. And see what it’s all about, see what I can learn from it and I’m excited for that opportunity.”Melissa Paris, Hayes’ wife, may ride a Tech 3 Moto2 machine at the same test, though it’s not yet 100 percent, Hayes said, “And again, it was something that was ‘I’m going to be there and Melissa’s trying to do a really good job for Yamaha on her HT Moto bikes and getting the Yamaha brand and name out there.’ And so I think Keith was able to work something out so it would kind of be a seamless deal and maybe it would work good for everybody.”What is certain is that Paris will compete in the Supersport races at this weekend’s British Superbike Championship finale at Brands Hatch. On Monday, Paris tested the MotoDex Performance First Yamaha at a track day. The owner of MotoDex, which is one of her AMA sponsors, is thinking of fielding a team in BSB next year and “this was kind of a way to get his feet wet,” Hayes said. “And he knew he’d get a lot of support bringing Melissa on, having a woman coming over and doing this. So he put the deal together with her. I didn’t even bring leathers. I’m just here as a spectator.”The weekend will be tricky for Paris. On Friday she’ll practice on the 1.2079-mile Brands Hatch Indy course, which produces Superbikes lap times of around 45-46 seconds. Then on Saturday she has a 30-minute practice session on the 2.433-mile Brands Hatch GP course before a 30-minute qualifying session. On Sunday she has an eight-minute warm-up followed by two races, one of 12 laps, one of 16. There’s an earlier 10-lap race, but because it’s a makeup race for a postponed race at Oulton Park, she may not be allowed to ride.The course swap is the result of noise restrictions at the track southeast of London.”They have only a certain number of noise days, so they had to give up a day at the last race they did to noise and do the short circuit and then race the long circuit on Saturday-Sunday. They’re doing the same thing this weekend,” Hayes said. “So we’re trying to find a way to get her some extra track time, because they’re all going to get extra laps on the big track. She’s going to learn it on Saturday and race on Sunday.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.