Honda RC30
Lot 486
The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429
Sold for €26,450 (US$ 32,856) inc. premium

Lot Details
The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship,1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. HMRC30-2000429 Honda RC30 Honda RC30 Honda RC30 Honda RC30
The ex-Fred Merkel, World Superbike Championship
1989/90 Honda VFR750R RC30 Production Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. HMRC30-2000429
Like many American champions before and since, Fred Merkel proved more than capable of competing with the world's best on the international stage. His rise to fame was meteoric, starting with a record 10 wins in his debut year of AMA National Championship racing. Between 1984 and 1986 he won three AMA Superbike Championships for Honda before being inexplicably sacked, hence the move to Europe. Settling in Italy, Merkel bagged a ride with the Rumi team for the inaugural World Superbike Championship in 1988. He brought much needed star quality to the fledgling series, being the only really big name competing apart from ex-500cc World Champion Marco Lucchinelli. His hair a cascading mass of golden curls, Merkel looked more like a heavy metal rock star than a motorcycle racer.

Rumi were running Honda's new RC30 superbike, though there was no factory support for any of the Honda teams in WSB, and, like most of the other RC30 runners, they experienced reliability problems initially. Nevertheless, Merkel's consistency was rewarded with a win in Hungary and points at every round except super-fast Hockenheim where the Hondas were outclassed by the fuel-injected Bimotas and Ducatis. By the final round, held at New Zealand's Manfield Park, the championship had boiled down to a three-horse race between Merkel, Davide Tardozzi (Bimota) and Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamaha). Keeping his nerve in wet conditions, Merkel won the first race and finished 5th in the second to become superbike racing's first World Champion.

Now carrying the 'No.1' plate, Merkel stayed with Rumi and the RC30 for the 1989 season. Once again the championship went down to the wire in New Zealand, by which time Fred had won three times: twice in Hungary and once in Canada. When the only other contender, fellow Honda rider Stephane Mertens, crashed out of the first race, all Fred had to do was bring the RC 30 home near the front in race two to clinch his second World Championship, which he did with 272 points to race-winner Mertens' 265.

It was business as usual at the start of 1990, Merkel and the Rumi-backed RC30 finishing on the WSB podium's top step in Great Britain, Hungary and Germany before a practice crash at the Suzuka 8 Hours race effectively ruled him out for the rest of the year. Ranking third at the time of the accident, he ended up sixth in the Championship at the season's end. Merkel stuck with the Honda for another year but by this time the Ducatis were all but unbeatable. He switched to Yamaha, then joined a private Ducati team part way through 1993 before returning to the AMA Championship, resuming his winning ways in the 750 Supersport category. He retired from racing at the end of 1995 following another serious crash.

Last used during the 1990 World Superbike season, this ex-Merkel RC30 was sold by the Rumi team in October of that year to Roberto Patrignani, who in turn sold it to the current vendor in July 1991 (see confirmation letter on file).

Footnotes

  • Ex-Fred Merkel, Championnat du Monde Superbike
    Honda VFR750R RC30 Moto Course 1989/90
    Cadre n° HMRC30-2000429

    Comme beaucoup de champions américains d'hier et d'aujourd'hui, Fred Merkel se montra parfaitement capable de rivaliser avec les meilleurs pilotes du monde au niveau international. Son ascension fut météorique depuis ses 10 victoires obtenues dès sa première année en AMA National Championship. Entre 1984 et 1986 il remporta trois championnats AMA Superbike pour Honda avant d'en être exclu inexplicablement, motivant ainsi son transfert en Europe. Établi en Italie, Merkel signa avec l'équipe Rumi pour le premier Championnat du Monde Superbike de 1988. Il apporta un très appréciable parfum de notoriété à cette série débutante en étant la seule vraie vedette en course outre l'ancien Champion du Monde en 500, Marco Lucchinelli. Avec ses cascades de cheveux blonds bouclés, Merkel avait plutôt l'air d'une rock star heavy metal que d'un champion motocycliste.

    Rumi engageait alors la RC30 Superbike de Honda mais l'usine ne soutenait aucune écurie Honda en WSB et comme les autres pratiquants de la RC30, ils connurent au début leur lot de problèmes de fiabilité. Néanmoins, la régularité de Merkel fut récompensée par une victoire en Hongrie et des points à chaque arrivée excepté sur le circuit super rapide de Hockenheim où les Honda furent battues par les Bimota et les Ducati à injection. Lors de la manche finale courue à Manfield Park en Nouvelle-Zélande, le championnat s'était réduit à un duel à trois entre Merkel, Davide Tardozzi (Bimota) et Fabrizio Pirovano (Yamahca). Maître de ses nerfs sous la pluie, Merkel remporta la première manche et finit 5e dans la eonde pour devenir le premier Champion du Monde en Superbike.

    Détenteur désormais du n°1, Merkel resta chez Rumi avec la RC30 pour la saison 1989. Une fois encore, le championnat s'acheva en Nouvelle-Zélande alors que Fred avait déjà gagné trois fois : deux fois en Hongrie et une fois au Canada. Lorsque le seul autre prétendant, son collègue sur Honda Stéphane Mertens, chuta dans la première course, tout ce que Fred eut à faire fut d'amener la RC30 sur la ligne dans la seconde pour décrocher le titre mondial, son deuxième, avec 272 points contre 265 pour Mertens, vainqueur de la manche.

    Les affaires reprirent comme d'habitude au début de la saison 1990 et la RC30 de Merkel soutenue par Rumi finit première du WSB en Grande-Bretagne, en Hongrie et en Allemagne avant qu'un accident aux essais aux 8 Heures de Suzuka n'éliminât Fred pour le reste de la saison. En troisième position au moment de l'accident, il finit sixième du championnat en fin de saison. Merkel demeura avec Honda l'année suivante, mais les Ducati étaient imbattables. Il partit chez Yamaha puis signa pour une écurie Ducati privée en milieu de saison 1993 avant de retourner en championnat AMA où il recommença à accumuler les victoires en catégorie 750 Supersport. Il se retira de la compétition à la fin de 1995 après un autre grave accident.

    Pilotée pour la dernière fois dans le World Superbike 1990, cette RC30 ex Merkel fut vendue par le Team Rumi en octobre de cette même année à Roberto Patrignani qui la céda au vendeur actuel en juillet 1991 (voir courrier de confirmation dans le dossier).
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