Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ayrton Senna launches join venture bikes with Carraro, Italy

Ayrton Senna during the launch of his bycicles join venture with Carraro, Italy

Ayrton Senna launched 3 different types of bycicles

On Thursday, before heading to Imola, Senna was one of those trade commitments that caused concern Galvão Bueno: the launch of three models of bikes Senna, created by the Italian factory Carraro.

Source: O heroi revelado, Ernesto Rodrigues

Thursday 28th April 1994 was destined to be a busy day for Ayrton Senna. He woke in his villa in Quinta do Lago in the Portuguese Algarve as usual and went for an early morning run around the sand dunes and golf greens. His Portuguese housekeeper, Juraci, was already up doing errands and fussing around him. He hated leaving his Portuguese home. The four-bedroomed, white-walled villa sat in its own grounds set in a dream resort of around 2,000 acres. With golf courses and lakes on one side and a beach on the other, this paradise was still a well-kept secret as far as Senna was concerned. Only people who had been there understood the unique atmosphere and climate. The resort had a five-star hotel, four championship golf courses and many top restaurants and a nightclub.

But most of all Quinta do Lago gave him the anonymity he craved.

The people also spoke his language, Portuguese. It was the only place in the world outside Brazil that he felt at home. André Jordan, the developer of Quinta do Lago, had employed Brazilian architect Júlio Neves to design much of the infrastructure. And over the European winter, when he had been inBrazil, the house was remodelled and redecorated. In 1994, for the first time, he planned to spend the entire European season in Portugal and not return to Brazil at all.

His one servant was Juraci, who was in permanent residence. Her duties were to cook, clean and chauffeur and she did them all admirably.

In fact Senna felt good every time he drove past the rainbow-coloured ‘Q’ logo statue that rotated slowly inside a fountain at the main entrance to the complex. He felt he was entering a unique environment where nature was in complete harmony with his design for living a Brazilian lifestyle in Europe. His garden was a breathtaking vista of exotic, tropical plants – palms and banana trees, giant hibiscus, vivid yellow mimosa, whole walls of bougainvillea, orange, lemon and avocado trees. The area, legally protected since 1987, was a unique natural habitat for more than 200 resident or migratory birds, including a number of rare and endangered species. The lakes were a rich repository for shellfish and other marine life.

When he wanted he could jet-ski or windsurf on the lakes and run for hours along the nature trails. It made his fitness regime more bearable in the wonderful climate and beautiful surroundings. And when he needed a social life he went to the golf club, where the locals and residents knew him but, more importantly, knew not to bother him. At the restaurants and nightclubs on the complex, the same rules applied. And he regarded the security firm that looked after the site as his own personal one. It was so effective that petty crime in Quinta do Lago was virtually non-existent.

And things were about to get even better. He packed a small overnight bag himself for the three nights he was going to spend in a hotel in San Pietro near Bologna, whilst competing in the San Marino Grand Prix. There were no formal dinners or commitments that weekend, so his clothing needs were minimal. As he packed he remarked to Juraci that life couldn’t get any better than it was that bright sunny morning in the Algarve. But he was always saying that to the people around him, reminding them all, and not least himself, how lucky they all were to be sharing the life Formula One had given him.

His brother, Leonardo, was staying until Sunday and would be coming with him to Imola

Senna spent his time between two tight groups: his family, with whom he congregated in Brazil; and his private circle of friends, which was just as tight as his family group, and with whom he spent time in Europe. This group consisted of around a dozen people headed by Antonio Braga, a wealthy Brazilian who also divided his time between Brazil and Portugal. He liked having them around. The upcoming race at Imola would be no different.

After his run Juraci prepared a light breakfast for him and Leonardo, who was returning to Brazil after the San Marino Grand Prix. She then delivered them to Faro airport, where Captain Owen O’Mahoney was waiting in Senna’s own BAe HS125 jet to fly them to Munich for a morning meeting with executives from Audi. Senna had been negotiating to take over the Audi franchise in Brazil. This was a meeting to finalise the terms. A few hours after landing they were ready to take off again this time for Forli airport near Bologna. From Forli the brothers would go by helicopter to Padua and the Carraro bicycle factory. Senna had a new deal with Carraro to manufacture a carbon-fibre bicycle called the Senna that would carry his famous double ‘S’ logo. It had been planned for some time and was one of many new products under the famous ‘double S’ Senna brand. He was also to import the Carraro bicycles into Brazil

After arriving at the factory to formally sign the contract, he would go on to the Sheraton Padova Hotel on the highway from Milan to Venice.

At around 4 o’clock he arrived in Padua and landed his helicopter in the grounds of the Carraro Industria factory. After signing the contract he went with Giovanni Carraro to the hotel for a press conference. It was part of the start of a new life for him as an entrepreneur when he retired from racing. He wanted to talk about it but there were hardly any journalists he recognised at the press conference and naturally all they wanted to talk about was motor racing, not bicycles. Senna told the press conference: “The world championship is just beginning for me in Imola, with a handicap of two races.”

Even though the journalists present were not Formula One veterans, they were enthusiastic Italians and wanted to ask him questions about Benetton’s supposed traction control. Senna was surprised about their depth of knowledge. He said: “I really can’t say much about it,” and then said, in a way that revealed both very little and yet a lot: “It’s difficult to talk about things one cannot prove.”

At around 5:30pm he left the Carraro factory and flew to the Imola circuit. On the way he collected Mike Vogt, marketing director of TAG Heuer. Senna and Vogt, who knew each other from his McLaren days, discussed a new Senna watch the company was developing. Even though Senna had left the McLaren family, of which TAG Heuer was a part, Vogt still wanted to do business with him. He knew he could sell plenty of Senna watches at $2,000 apiece.


Book The Life of Senna – Tom Rubython

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