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Editorial | Mike Wilson: that time I made Ayrton Senna overturn

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MIKE WILSON THAT TIME I MADE AYRTON SENNA OVERTURN

21 December 2017

The year after my arrival in Italy, in 1979, Senna and I got to know each other well. Maybe a little too "close" ... It went like this: we were in Jesolo, during a Pre-final. I started first, he started second.

On the first three laps, just after the start, I was in trouble because my tyres had not warmed up yet. Ayrton was faster and was on my shoulder. I said to myself: "If he overtakes me, I won’t be able to get back in front...", so I started to defend my position by taking narrower trajectories so as not to leave any gaps. At a certain point, at the hairpin, Senna tries to attack.

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I saw him out of the corner of my eye and braked heavily to try and make him abandon the racing line, but we make contact and he overturns, suffering a bad blow to the ribs, serious enough to stop him from competing in the Final the next day.
I won the race on Sunday and, after the award ceremony, I got off the podium clutching my trophy to find Senna waiting for me, in a wheelchair because he had difficulty breathing and walking. Inevitably, we traded insults and he accused me of throwing him off the track on purpose. It was a fair point, because in karting back then, due to the little protection available, it took very little for any contact with an opponent to occur in the right place and cause them to overturn.
After that occasion, there were no other major incidents between us, although I must be honest and say that there was some bad blood between us.
Things changed a few years later, when he was in Formula 1. Of course, we were not great friends, but there was a connection and we started to get along much better. So much so that, when I won my sixth world title, Ayrton made a very special gesture that I did not expect: the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper had published the news of my victory, a few lines on the pages dedicated to motorsport.

Born in 1959, he was one of the best drivers in the history of karting. The only driver capable of winning 6 world titles: 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1989.

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