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to many brazilians, senna communicated a vulnerability that they aparpreciated all the more because they knew he had to set his fears aside whenever he climbed into the cockpit. what sealed the loveaftair the country had with senna was his willingness, or perhaps his need, to share the glory: after avery win he would reach for a brazilian flag and hoist it high above his head for the victorylad. his popularity was magnified by the contrast with his country's sense of collective demise. as his caree revvep up in the 80s , brasil was headed the other way, descending into economic andpolitical disarray, frustation and selfdoubt.senna,presidential adviser Augusto Magazão said last week,''was the luminous flip side of the negative starte in wihich lay the Brasilian soul.''in Short,hissuccess was seen as proof that despite a 45%a-month inflation rate, growing poverty ande never-ending corruption scandals,Brazil could still come out a winner.

For sevenfrustrantingyears,though,Senna's dream of a victory at home,in the brazilian Grand prix,eluded him.He finally won
the race in 1991,but only after a cliffhanger finish and typical heroics.He was leading comfortably,with only afew kilometers to go,when the gearbox of his car jammed.By the last lap only one gear was functioning,but senna wrestled his Mclaren-Honda to the checkered exhausted he could barely lift hisarms,grimacing from the pain,he hoisted the trophy and the flag.

Senna won in Brazil again in 1993 in equally dramatic fashion-this time agains his archrival,the Frenchman Alain Prost.(over theyears,Senna's fat-out duels with prost,including several dangerous collisions,had fostered an enmity that prost says did not ease until just before Senna's death.)prost and his teammate.

DamonHill had been much faster in practice, and the fans knew that only a race-day downpour would give senna, the acknowledget master of wet-track driving, a chance. brasil prayed for rain. the next day,...
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