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TKART magazine Once in a lifetime | Touching Senna's kart
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02 December 2016
For motorsport enthusiasts, Ayrton Senna still represents the icon of a legend. That’s why seeing the DAP kart with which he “grew up” up close is priceless
Two chassis and six engines. This was the standard “arsenal” provided to Ayrton Senna for the more important races by DAP, an Italian company founded by brothers Angelo and Achille Parrilla, the only team for which Senna raced karts.
Not the endless list of equipment that modern drivers are used to, but, for the time, no small matter.

Nowadays, one of those karts, the WTR 101 model with the 1-803 serial number, is cherished like a jewel by Angelo Parrilla, who willingly lends it to the various historical re-enactments that are organised now and again or to journalists who, like us at TKART, ask to see it up close.

The allure of the historic kart on itself is exceptional; the fact that it was used by Senna makes it unique. Not to mention the stories that go with it, like the one that the kart ended up in Senna’s hands... by accident.

Perhaps someone will have already asked: “Weren’t DAP chassis red at the time?”.
Correct: they were red; in fact, this was not a works chassis. But... In the free prctice phase of the World Championship in Estoril, Achille Parrilla asked Ayrton to try the new water cooled engine that DAP had started producing.
The rear brake system only had a single disc, ventilated and lightweight. It was a hydraulic command that was not self-adjusting. Note the components that were already made out of magnesium: DAP was the only manufacturer at the time that fitted them on its karts, producing hubs, gearwheel supports, and rims internally
Besides the overall essential structure of the vehicle, down to the absence of body work, the biggest difference that could leave you amazed is axle diameter: “just” 25 mm. Back then the max was 30 mm, but Senna always preferred the thinner option - half of the diameter used today!
Since all the “official” red chassis were in use for the competition, the engine was installed on a “left over” frame that Lanzetti had used in a race in Italy and that was still sitting in the team truck.
Senna did a few trial runs and when he pulled back in, his comment was: “The engine is no good, but the chassis flies!”. So he requested to have this as his official frame, equipped with the “standard” air cooled engine, and not just for the World event, but for all his kart races.

The engine Senna raced with was the DAP T70: an air cooled 100 cc motor, offering a little over 21 hp at a maximum of 16,800 rpm.
Senna’s kart and suit in an evocative photograph taken by Riccardo del Conte
While DAP WTR 101 essential lines substantially speak the same language as today’s karts, the age difference definitely shows in the fuel tank. This is by far the most dated component: it consists of a plastic (5 liter) tank taped to the chassis with duct tape with two holes, one for the fuel tubes
The engine with a “V” on the fins: the mark left by commissioners after checking the material to be used in a race. The bodyshell is made entirely of tubes that are 28 mm in diameter
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