Video: Ayrton Senna Flogs the NSX-R!

Senna enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Honda’s engineers at the height of his career, during which his McLaren-Honda cars carried him to three world championships. Throughout his tenure with the Japanese giant, his sensitivity for mechanical changes was legendary, and while his teammate Alain Prost did the lion’s share of the setup work, Senna’s panache, feeling for the limit and demanding personality made his opinion valued among the team of Japanese engineers and mechanics.

Because of these traits, Senna was heavily involved in the development of the original NSX. His original critique of the chassis, stating it was far too soft and needed a healthy dose of lateral rigidity, stunned the engineers, but they trusted the wise man’s words. With added torsional stiffness, they eventually created a car that, while unforgiving at the limit, made the most of a mediocre powerplant. The NSX endured not because of the 276 horsepower it left the factory with, but the pin-sharp, wild handling that put it on par with the turbocharged Japanese sports cars of the era.

http://cdn.gaijinpot.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/senna.jpg

Senna’s personal stable included a pair of NSXs, which he was once pulled over doing 140 mph in. The officer was reported to have asked, “Who do you think you are? Nigel Mansell?”

Senna owned several NSXs himself, and when the release of the newest, Type R version was upon the world, the late racer took the opportunity to thrash one at Suzuka — a circuit he enjoyed so much success at. After leaving the pits in typically-dramatic fashion, Senna proceeds to balance the car between understeer and oversteer with his signature technique. Blipping the throttle in a staccato fashion mid-corner allowed Senna to adjust the attitude of the car on the fly, and his quick hands sorted out any slides in the process. This balletic style of driving kept the car cornering at an inconsistent angle, making it look alive.

Even without an effective differential, the car looks lively and capable, and the brave man shows no fear when charging into some of the quickest corners on the track, riding the curbs and correcting minuscule slides. Of course, the classy loafers Senna wears must’ve had something to do with that performance, but nevertheless, the great man’s ability is on full display here in one of Japan’s most iconic sports cars.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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