As the 2018 motorcycle racing season draws to a close, I caught up with the 2018 BEMSEE Rookie 600 Champion Max Morgan to find out about his first season in competitive racing, what it takes to win a championship and how he will prepare over winter to come back even stronger next year.
Congratulations on being crowned the 2018 BEMSEE Rookie 600 Champion. What inspired you to get out on track?
I guess my passion stems from my dad [Nick Morgan]. He’s been racing since 1982 and ran the Factory Kawasaki British Superbike Team for years. But, he was so focused on Superbikes and the Isle of Man TT that we never really spoke about me racing. It’s only after a few track days that I decided I wanted to go racing. Also, I’ve grown up around people like Michael Rutter, Pere Riba [4 x World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea’s crew chief], Andrew Pitt, Alex Lowes, Peter Hickman, Danny Buchan and the late William Dunlop, so I think being around them gave me the bug for it. It was inevitable really.
How did you end up competitive racing?
I did a couple of track days before my BEMSEE Rookie year and I learnt so much from my dad and his riders. My first venture out on tack at Cartagena in Spain was with William Dunlop and Pirelli Race Boss and TT rider Jason Griffiths. It was amazing to have those guys helping me with racecraft and track positioning and all of that. Then this year at Donington everything I learnt really clicked, even though I’d never been to Donington before. That was the turning point really.
Being a champion isn’t easy. What was the lowest low, and the highest high throughout the season?
The start of the season was definitely the most difficult. The harder I tried the slower I went, and I was getting frustrated watching the championship leader getting further and further ahead after every race. It’s a long drive home after a poor race meeting, but my dad was so positive and we used to make a plan for the next weekend which reassured me we would get the results eventually. The highlight was qualifying on the front row at the Snetterton 200 circuit in the mixed MRO/Rookie races, I was P3 in the dry and I’d never ridden the 200 circuit.
What have you learnt the most this season?
Never give up. Push from the first lap through to the last lap, and from the first race to the last race. We were 88 points behind the leader after three meetings, and ended up winning the Championship by 95 points.
Your dad runs the motorcycle performance company MSS Performance – do you work well together as a team?
Definitely. Dad does all of the work on the bike and I’m not allowed to touch it. I actually worked for him for a while but he sacked me… apparently I wasn’t very good.
… Who knows best?
I hate to say it but he does. We have a mega relationship and he’s like my best mate, which helps a lot.
Lots of racers have superstitions. What’s yours?
Me and dad have the same pre race talk and little fist-bump before every session, and I always check the fuel cap is done up. On the grid, I shut my visor and say a few words to my grandad to make sure he’s watching over me before every race.
Training in the off season is key. How do you prepare to make sure you’re in the best shape to win?
I’m big for a 600 so this winter I will work double hard to shed some timber and get my fitness up with my personal trainer. I’m going to get a KXF from Kawasaki to do some MX with friends as well to keep bike fit. I’ll trundle across to Spain too for some much needed winter sunshine and testing when dad gets back from the Macau GP.
What advice would you give to aspiring racers?
It’s about commitment and focus, plus having good people around you. You have to give up a lot to compete as it’s expensive, especially relative to other sports or hobbies like football for example. You can’t go to Ibiza one weekend then moan that you don’t have a new set of tyres the next, it’s about getting a balance. But the buzz you get from racing is next level, it’s the best feeling ever!
Finally, what’s next for Max Morgan?
Well, we had the opportunity to do BSB Superstock 600 at the final round, but we didn’t have enough time to get everything together sadly. I think the plan will be to stay at BEMSEE for another year in 600, and do some selected BSB rounds when my times are competitive. Plus I know dad will have a couple of 2019 ZX-10RR’s, so I will plague him to death to give me go on one of those!
If Max’s story has inspired you to begin racing, read the ‘How to… Start Motorcycle Club Racing’ article.
*The British Motorcycle Racing Club (known as BEMSEE) is the world’s oldest motorcycle racing club founded in 1909, and one of the UK’s largest, offering a range of classes for varying levels of experience.
*Image: Mitch DuCran