Josh Hayes: American Champ Heads to Valencia for MotoGP
For Josh Hayes, a test on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 has turned into an appearance in the MotoGP season finale.
Josh Hayes knows a thing or two about being in the right place at the right time. For the two-time AMA Superbike champion, that usually means he's in first place at the checkered flag. This weekend, however, Hayes is in Valencia, preparing to race the final MotoGP round of the season.
Hayes, who normally rides the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha in AMA Superbike, was invited to test the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 following the Valencia race. He and his wife Melissa Paris both planned to hop on the MotoGP machine, which features a LeoVince exhaust system.
But, as anyone who has been around roadracing for a while knows, plans can change as quickly as a MotoGP bike can accelerate. Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards was injured in a crash two weeks ago, which left the M1 without a rider for the season finale.
Since Hayes was already planning to be in Valencia, the team extended the invitation for him to turn his test into a spot in the race.
Hayes has been to the Spanish circuit as a spectator, but this weekend he'll make his first laps of the 2.489-mile track.
"It's going to be a lot to take in," Hayes says. "I've watched a few videos of MotoGP bikes going around the track and played the video game a bit so I'll know which direction each turn goes. I hope to do some laps on the scooter before practice."
The track isn't the only unknown factor this weekend. In fact, Hayes says that everything will be new: the team, the bike and the tires will all take getting used to. "On Thursday I'll get my chance to chat with the boys on the team. I'll go over things with the tech guys to know where to shift and what gear to be in for each corner," Hays explains. "And I'll be able to ask friends who race the series: guys like Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow, and even Colin."
Those same friends will also be Hayes's competitors at Valencia, but he says the level of talent doesn't intimidate him because he goes head-to-head with equally skilled riders here in the U.S.
Still, Hayes has realistic expectations for Valencia. "I believe I can race at the world level, but I just can't show up at the last race of the season for the first time and do it. These guys are riding the bikes as well as they ever will, so the expectation for me as a complete newcomer is smaller. We'll get out there and see what we can do."
Hayes adds, "There are no high expectations for me, other than with myself. I think if I do a good job for me, then everyone else will be happy, too."
Knowing how competitive--and successful--Hayes is as a racer, we're not worried about him meeting expectations. In the meantime, he's grateful for the chance to ride in the world's premier series.
"There are a lot of common sponsors between my team and this one: Yamaha, Monster Energy, GYTR and YES, and all these people came together to help make this happen," Hayes says. "If it was just up to me, Marco (Simoncelli) and Colin would still be there racing and I'd still just be testing. But the powers that be have put it in my hands, and hopefully I'll do a good job for them, as well as for LeoVince and the rest of our sponsors."
Catch Hayes on the Leo-Vince equipped Yamaha Tech 3 M1 during Saturday's MotoGP season finale at Valencia. Hayes is a popular rider in the U.S., and we expect he'll be able to hear the cheers of his fans all the way in Spain.
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