Ayrton Senna's sports car cameo

Ayrton Senna made a serious impression on his solitary sportscar outing

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

It was just as you’d expect: the first time the Brazilian sat in a sportscar he was right on the pace. He could have had a works Porsche drive, if he’d wanted…

It’s one of those eternal motorsport quiz questions: ‘When and where did Ayrton Senna make his only appearance in a sportscar?’ Most aficionados know the answer, but few are aware of the story behind the future F1 World Champion’s drive aboard a Joest Racing Porsche 956 at the Nürburgring in July 1984.

Senna, then in his rookie season of F1 with Toleman, had already driven on the brand-new 2.82-mile Nürburgring, winning a one-make Mercedes tin-top race at the official opening of the circuit. Now he wanted to drive the track in a proper racing car ahead of the European GP in October.

Portuguese Domingos Piedade had been acting as European scout for Senna’s manager Armando Teixeira since 1983. He also happened to be Joest’s part-time team manager, which explains why the Brazilian ended up sharing a 956 with Stefan Johansson and Henri Pescarolo in the ‘Ring 1000Km.

“Reinhold Joest asked me how much money this guy was going to bring,” recalls Piedade, “but I told him he was going to pay Ayrton. I think he was paid $10,000, plus expenses.”

Senna approached the event with his usual professionalism and was surprised that he wouldn’t require a seat fitting. “He was shocked when I told him that you could pull the seat forward and back just like a road car,” says Piedade.

Johansson remembers the same Senna who he would get to know in F1. “What can you say? He was typically Ayrton,” offers the Swede. “He was thorough and professional in every way and, predictably, straight on the pace.”

Pescarolo says he barely spoke to the Brazilian. “I didn’t speak to him because he didn’t speak to me,” explains the four-time Le Mans winner. “I don’t remember much about him, except when he got in the car he was incredibly fast.”

Joest was particularly impressed, and not only by his guest driver’s speed. “He was interested in every technical aspect of the car and was continually asking questions to the engineers,” says Joest, who admits that Senna had a valuable input into the way he ran his Porsches in the future.

Senna dictated two pages of notes, and Joest was surprised by his understanding of the car after such a short spell in it. “They were good ideas and we did use some of them,” says Joest. “The 956 and 962 always had understeer and some changes he suggested helped that.” Senna’s pace didn’t give Joest a dream result: there were too many hitches. A puncture, a clutch change and an engine problem left the New Man-liveried car down in eighth place. But it did provoke some interest from Porsche, which wanted to know when this Senna guy would be available to try a factory car.

“I said to the Porsche guys, ‘Never’,” recalls Piedade. “You could offer him $1m, but he’s not interested.”

Senna, in fact, had jumped straight out of a double stint in the Porsche for a mad dash to Cologne airport: he was testing his Toleman at Snetterton the following day.

The sportscar world had seen the last of Ayrton Senna.

You may also like

Related products