California Girls Take On the Corkscrew: hey, it ain’t horse-ballet!
99-riders showed up for Round 8 of the 2012 AMA Pro RoadRacing series July 27-29th at the Mazda-Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. 99 riders, and a bitch ain’t one…there were four (it’s a JayZ song; just go with it). Shelina Moreda, Elena Myers, Melissa Paris, and newcomer Danielle Diaz all suited up in their leathers and took on the boys at one of the most technically challenging tracks in the world. Not really anything new to these women; all are from California, and each has conquered the corkscrew more than once. Fog-delays resulted in abbreviated qualifying sessions and eliminated warm-ups though, and no-doubt contributed to uncharacteristic mid-, rear-, and non-qualifying grid positions.
AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike competitor, Melissa Paris, was particularly frustrated. Having had to sit out the last two races due to funding and sponsorship issues, Melissa was understandably eager to hit the track. What she and fellow competitors ended up with was less than 20 minutes of track time to establish a decent qualifying pace. That would explain the unusual back row start for Paris, who still managed to peel off almost four seconds from her qualifying time and finish 22nd. No small feat, considering the evasive maneuvers she employed to avoid disaster with a downed bike and rider as the entire pack plunged into turn 1 at the start of the race. Melissa’s uncanny ability to maneuver her motorcycle in extreme circumstances (I’ve watched this girl for years) served her well; keeping the rubber side down and crossing the finish line unscathed, Melissa edged up four places before crossing the finish line. And, hats off to new sponsor, Freegun Underwear, for having the chutzpah to sponsor a woman rider. Double hat’s off to make it a corporate philosophy: they also sponsor Women’s Motocross Association and X-Games Gold Medalist, Ashley Fiolek. Freegun, I tip my low-rise jeans-in-an-agressive-riding-position to you: stamping out thong-strap, one crouched-over-the-tank butt at a time.In the AMA Pro MotorcycleSuperstore.com SuperSport class, Shelina Moreda was the chosen one. Not for one of her characteristic double-digit place improvements…not for landing yet another bike and team to ride for (she races for an Italian and US electric bike manufacturers, Harley Davidson 1800′s, and a Yamaha R6); au contraire. Shelina’s number came up as the one chosen to have…well, a really sucky week-end. As if not making the qualifying grid in the SuperSport class wasn’t bad enough, funding limitations for both Brammo and eCRP meant she wouldn’t be racing those bikes, either. A huge let-down for this ultra-competitive girl (who just happens to be one of the nicest, most energetic persons I’ve ever met in the pits), but as far as motorcycle racing goes, her sucky week-end could have sucked worse. A whole lot worse. And we’re all glad it didn’t go there, Shelina.
The other two women competing in the SuperSport class, Elena Myers and Danielle Diaz, both had impressive results. Myers, usually on the first or second row of the grid with her #21 Suzuki ScoopFans GSXR-600, started in 10th position after a fog-abbreviated qualifying session. She wasn’t able to advance until later in the race, crossing the finish line in 7th. One of her usual explosive starts would have helped, but there were more riders in front of her than she’s used to this time. The persistence and aggression this pretty, blonde teenager is known for (I know; just doesn’t sound right, does it?) ultimately paid off, and she was able to pick off several riders in front of her before the checkered flag. Since Laguna Seca is a West Coast race and the 4th, 5th, and 6th place finishers were East Coast division riders, Elena nabbed the third-place points, and now sits in third place overall for the West Coast division. Fans know this is only likely to improve.
Danielle Diaz, also racing a Suzuki GSXR-600 in only her third AMA Pro SuperSport race can’t be disappointed. Starting in 38th place on a grid of 43 riders, she advanced a half-dozen places and dropped her fastest lap time three seconds from her qualifying time. Not too shabby! Another hats off to co-sponsor CycleGear, a big-name retailer putting it’s money where it’s mouth is when it comes to supporting women in motorcycling. Danielle’s first and second AMA Pro races were at the season-opener in Daytona, where she had a respectable first race, but suffered a pretty potent crash into the air fence the second race that left her visibly stunned and undoubtably banged-up. Not enough to keep her down though; she got up, brushed off the dust, and shook it off. Yeah, this ain’t “horse ballet”, folks.
The next round of AMA Pro RoadRacing with girls on the grid not holding umbrellas will be Sept. 7-9th at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Get some rest, girls.
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