4 Hours of Suzuka
Two American females will take on the 4 Hours of Suzuka aboard a Moriwaki-prepped Honda CBR600RR – Melissa Paris and Shelina Moreda.
The shorter-endurance race will occur ahead the famed 8 Hours of Suzuka, round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship, which occurs July 27.
Paris, the wife of three-time AMA SuperBike Champion Josh Hayes, and Moreda will pilot the #21 Synergy Force Moriwaki Club Honda CBR600RR.
The team is managed by Midori Moriwaki, the daughter of the founder and CEO of this Japanese company. paris and Moreda put some laps in together earlier this month, and are excited to compete in 4 Hours of Suzuka, which takes place on the eve of Saturday, July 26.
Melissa Paris says: “Despite the fact that it was very tight and difficult for me to make it to this test because I was racing in Spain last weekend, in the end I am so happy that we finally found the way to make this happen. Today, out on the track, straight away I realized that the track was very challenging with 22 turns, which is a lot to master, and if it were not for these test sessions, I do not think I would be able to even be competitive in the race.
“As the day went on, I was more confident and comfortable with the track, and hoping that things will get better with a good night sleep tonight after a day of testing right after my arrival in the morning from Spain. I am probably a good 10+ seconds behind the pace and as a racer you can not be happy about it but at the same time I must be honest with the condition I am in right now. For tomorrow, I hope we will have a dry day out and will be given a chance to improve my performance.
“When I think about racing for the Suzuka 4 Hours, I think heat will be something I have to manage, and because I have a little experience with endurance racing, but I’ve been training very hard this year including heat management, but I do not think you can quite prepare fully for that and the fact is that you have to wait and see how hard the condition could be in the actual race.
“I also would like to add that this project is part of FIM’s ‘Women in Motorsports’ project and I am grateful for the fact that they have gotten into road-racing in particular in which I think is a great opportunity for women to be as competitive as the others, so buy our ding this, I would like to see the days when it is not surprising to have girls on the road racing grids. Looking very much for the remaining test and toward the race”.
Shelina Moreda says: “It is an honor to be here racing with a team like Moriwaki, and being supported by Honda is huge for me. These are big names in the states too, so it was really a big deal for me to be asked to come over here. Also the support from FIM is incredible.
“To me, racing in Japan is a dream, because Japan is close to my heart..I lived in Japan for a year in the past and I always wanted to come back. To come back here racing motorcycles is the best thing ever, doing something I love the most – motorcycle racing – in a country as amazing as Japan, with a team as professional as Moriwaki.
“Coming here, riding with Melissa and meeting the team has been awesome; the team is so good and so professional which makes me happy and makes me proud to feel like I am really part of something big. My first day out on Suzuka, I could not stand it! It’s really fast and so different from the tracks I had experienced in the past.
“Yuki Takahashi, who is here helping us learn the track, said to me before I was on the track that Suzuka is like a combination of a two different tracks, and I understood what he meant as soon as I was out on the track. It took me a good one session for me to really understand what was going on. It’s also my first time riding a Honda, so the bike is also very new to me, but I liked it a lot.
“The bike is so well balanced and easy to ride. Again I really enjoy the track with a lot of exciting turns, but I blew through the two chicanes on my first lap out.
“I had a hard time learning it but my second session went a lot better, I dropped over 4 seconds between the beginning of the second session and the end of it, and that was quite rewarding for me. This is going to be my first time in an endurance race and although there is still a lot to learn and a lot to get used to, I am really looking forward for the event”.
Their historic participation is supported by the Commission for Women in Motorcycling, as part of the FIM’s efforts to promote increased female involvement in two-wheel motorsport.
The first free practice for the Suzuka 4 Hours will be held on Thursday, July 24. The start of the race itself will be on Saturday, July 26 at 9 am local time (GMT + 9 h).