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TKART magazine Once in a lifetime | Senna in Bercy: the photos and the unpublished story
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Mattia Livraghi
24 January 2022
The white OMP tracksuit, without sponsors, the duel revolves around Prost, the bitter rival ... In that race, which is now a legend, we know everything and we have seen everything. Or maybe not. Because TKART, thanks to the story and photos of Gianni Piazza and Mauro Pozzi, who experienced it side by side with the Brazilian for the whole weekend, now reveals what no one has ever told or shown you before
It was the year 1993. It was the weekend of December 17-19 and in Bercy, a district of Paris, the Masters Karting was taking place, a karting competition organised by former Formula 1 driver Philippe Streiff. The goal was to bring together the best performers from all disciplines of motorsport, from go-karting to Formula 1, and have them compete together in an event that can be a real spectacle for fans. The stage was an indoor circuit in the Paris-Bercy Sports Palace and among the standard-bearers of the premier class was a certain Ayrton Senna da Silva. Both Streiff and Bruno Grana, the founder of IAME (the manufacturer that supplied the engines for the event) courted him, but it was Gianni Piazza, IAME trainer and owner of the Nordikas team, who convinced him to come. And how did he manage it? "Because of the friendship that existed between him and me. He had given me his phone number a few years earlier”, Gianni told us. "When Ayrton was racing in karts, it was the period when my engines were doing very well and he was the opponent to beat, because he always raced for the competition: I only did Parilla and he raced with DAP. He has always been a loyal opponent, very fair, and the friendship started by him looking at us from afar, in a negative manner. We studied each other every time he was on the track, without ever knowing each other well. We only talked more during his last kart races, but there was always mutual respect and esteem". It is precisely these values that pushed Gianni to contact Ayrton personally: “I called him and asked him if he would come to Bercy, considering that there would be many colleagues with him, including his great opponent Prost. He replied: “Look, don't worry I'll come". And this is why, even if with a little delay, the three-time world champion showed up at Bercy.
Ayrton Senna, with his girlfriend Adriane Galisteu by his side, talking to Mauro Pozzi in front of his number 2 kart (Tecno / IAME / Dunlop).
He was the last driver to arrive on the track, Friday afternoon, and, while he was flying, he called the person who was to assist him in this very special race: Mauro Pozzi, a mechanic linked to IAME. "He called me while he was on the plane to inform me that he was arriving and he said to me: 'If there is any problem, call me'. I still have Ayrton's number, written with a pen on a piece of paper ”, Mauro told us.
Nor was it the first meeting between Pozzi and Senna. “I met Ayrton in 1978, when he came to Borgo Ticino to rehearse with DAP, Achille and Angelo Parrilla”, revealed Mauro. And then Mauro had been a fan, supporter and even mechanic of Mike Wilson, one of Senna's great opponents at the time he was racing in karts. “When they told me that I would be the mechanic for Ayrton in this event in Bercy, obviously for me it was an honour and I only had one worry: I wondered whether he would recognize me or not, naturally allowing him every excuse. Many years had passed by now, he had already won three world championships in Formula 1 and I said to myself: 'Why on earth would he recognize you?' ". Instead, the first surprise of this unique experience, as well as his best memory of those days, arrived immediately for Mauro. It was also the first demonstration of humanity which, along with many other characteristics, distinguished the legend of Senna: "He stretched out his hand and said to me: 'But we already know each other'. I am a little introverted, a little shy, and I replied: 'Yes, Borgo Ticino' ". And here, starting from a small Piedmont kart track, which Pozzi had managed for a few years, Mauro and Ayrton began to talk, just like two old friends, or enemies, who meet again with pleasure after a long time: "As soon as he recognized me, I calmed down.
Bruno Grana (on the right), founder of IAME, and Gianni Piazza let a boy sit on one of the competing go-karts.
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