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Watch Ayrton Senna absolutely thrash a Honda Civic around Suzuka

By Cameron Kirby, 28 Oct 2019 Motorsport

Ayrton Senna in retro Honda Civic

Rare footage shows the motorsport legend taking a Honda Civic to its limits

Set aside seven minutes, and watch one of the greatest drivers in the world ply his talents at the wheel of a high-revving retro Honda Civic.

This rare footage is from 1989, and includes over two and a half minutes of unbroken, raw, onboard footage of Ayrton Senna going all-out in a touring car.

How did one of F1’s greatest ever drivers find himself at the wheel of a small hatchback racer? Well, it’s all thanks to Honda, whose engines powered Senna’s McLaren race car.

Senna, along with a number of high-profile Japanese drivers, took part in a promotional event that included an EF9 Civic and EF8 CR-X at Suzuka

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Side-by-side comparisons show that Senna used a unique driving style to hustle the hatchback around the circuit quicker than anyone else.

This isn’t any regular EF9 Civic either, with the car set to compete in the N1 class of the N1 Japanese Touring Car Championship. It was fitted with a B16 engine, which utilised the relatively new VTEC technology.

What makes this particular promotion so unique is that it happened just a day after Senna and McLaren teammate Alain Prost collided during the ’89 Japanese Grand Prix.

The incident is known as one of the most controversial in F1 history, and remains iconic 30 years later.

For some context, Senna and Prost didn’t get along (to put it lightly), with the duo dominating the ’89 championship. Going into the race at Suzuka, Prost had won four races to Senna’s six, but the Frenchman led the Brazilian by 16 points in the championship.

Senna would have to win both the Japanese Grand Prix and the next race in Australia to have any chance of retaining the World Drivers’ Championship crown.

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What followed was a titanic battle between the pair that ultimately resulted in a collision on lap 46. Both McLarens came to a stop, and while Prost left his car, Senna had the marshals push his MP4/5 back onto the track.

Senna would go on to win the race, before being disqualified by the FIA for completing less than the official race distance, even if it was only by a few metres. Prost was handed the ’89 championship as a result.

Seeing Senna push the Civic to its limits just a day after going through that emotional turmoil makes the driving skill on display even more impressive.

At his core, the Brazilian icon was a racer in the purest sense, and this footage shows that beautifully.

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