Defending AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike champion, Josh Hayes of Monster Energy Graves Yamaha, left the 2013 season opener at Daytona with zero points and plenty of frustration. The Mississippi native never got a fair chance to contend for the SuperBike wins due to mechanical failures which took him out of competition in both races. Hayes sat down after the Daytona 200 for an impromptu press conference to give some explanation of what happened, to offer his thoughts on his wife, Melissa Paris, and her top-10 finish in the 200 and to chat a bit about what comes next.
Mechanical failures ending both SuperBike races early.
“Yesterday (SuperBike Race 1) we had the unfortunate incident of me being hard on equipment. I was trying to get a big start and I did some damage to the clutch and it took a little bit of time for me to kill it. I got a few good laps out of it at least; unfortunately it finally gave up the ghost after a while. Today’s event, (SuperBike Race 2) to the best of my knowledge, was an engine failure. I don’t know which component in the engine failed, but it gave me a little bit of an indication that it was going bad and then it progressed really quickly as soon as I came down onto the flat off the banking. I got a little hiccup and thought, ‘Am I running out of fuel, what’s going on?’ then things soured really quickly. I was doing my best to get down below the line but I was already getting close to the tri-oval, and when I got onto the paint the thing started swapping ends pretty quick and I ended up above the line. So I was just trying to stay close to the left side of the track and I was going to roll around until it was safe to get across but by the time I got down into Turn 1 I heard a bit of a clunk and the thing went sideways and kind of spit me off to the right. Fortunately I got across there safely. It was just an unfortunate event. I don’t know why or what happened, it didn’t give me any indication before then.
“Today (Saturday) turned it around a little bit for me. Having these two boys (Beaubier and Gerloff) finish first and second in the 200 and then seeing Melissa run ninth. I really feel she earned a ninth-place finish, unfortunately she had the ride-through penalty but you know a top-10 in the Daytona 200 is quite an accomplishment, I’m super proud of her. It was nice to see her get some TV time and watching her ride is really nice, she doesn’t look like she rides like a girl, I like that.”
“Josh is riding good. Before we came to Daytona I knew that, in my opinion, this is one of the easier tracks that we are able to go around and I had a pretty good feeling after riding some of the tougher tracks like Barber and Laguna that when he latched on to me he’d drop some big lap times. At this level, to drop a second and a half in one lap following somebody is a pretty incredible feat. And he had done that to me in the past quite a few times. I really had no doubts that he’d be able to do that. Once the race got going, he was able to put quite a few good laps together because I was clicking off some good lap times and he was hanging in there. I was basically just waiting for a mistake that would hopefully give me some breathing room and then I knew it would be hard for him to make ground back up. I felt like I was riding well and I think Josh is doing some good things, but it’s a long season. We’ve got another big break here and we’ll have to see if he’s able to raise the level of his game because I still feel like I have a little bit of pace on those guys and they still have a little bit of work to do.
“He’s young, pretty excitable and he’s riding a machine that’s hard to ride and it can quickly get out of control. I think he’s a super talented rider but I don’t think he’s had enough time on it and I don’t feel like he’s 100% of the time in 100% control of the motorcycle. It makes me nervous, but it’s part of what make him a super talent, that he can get away with that. I can’t do that, I get in there and do that a few times I’d be sliding on my head and he’s just got this incredible balance that he can try things and make mistakes and get away with it. When you’re riding close to it, it can be pretty scary sometimes. A lot of times I felt the same way about Blake (Young) and it’s a little unnerving to race with, but I just get out there and race the best I can and I try to put things together that are consistent, smooth and fast and put the pressure on them to learn to do that a full race distance every time.”
Thoughts on being down in points after the season opener.
“I’ve been in this position before. I’ve had a bad Daytona and had to come back from behind I really have nothing to lose right now. It’s kind of like having a big lead in the points, once you get a full race lead you have nothing to lose, you have a give-away. Well I don’t have a give-away, but second doesn’t mean that much to me. My goal at this point it to get every possible, available point for the rest of the season. The season is considerably shorter than last year so even though I won by a large margin last year, this year there’s not that many races available to me. There’s some talk and rumor of possibly adding another round to the end of the series which would be extremely good for me to have an extra couple races that I could make some points back. I definitely hope our series can strengthen up quickly with sponsorship dollars and TV packages, I hope all those things can happen so we can have an extra couple of races and I can have some more opportunities to race these guys.”