Motor Senna remembered on 20th anniversary of his death

Thu May 1, 2014 2:30pm EDT
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By Hanna Rantala

IMOLA Italy (Reuters) - Thousands of fans joined Formula One drivers past and present on Thursday in marking the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna at the Italian circuit where the triple champion crashed 20 years ago.

They thronged the track to observe a minute's silence at the Tamburello corner at 2.17 p.m., the moment the Brazilian's Williams ploughed into the wall while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Many carried flags and some pointed to the sky, as Senna did when he won, in remembrance before breaking into applause when the minute ended.

Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger had died the day before Senna, when he crashed during qualifying, and the two remain the last driver fatalities during a grand prix weekend.

The circuit near Bologna was opened to the public with tribute events scheduled in Imola, including a memorial football match and the naming of a square, over the next four days. According to organisers, some 20,000 people attended on Thursday.

A mass, attended by Ratzenberger's parents, was held on Wednesday night.

"It's so emotional for us because it's a long time and still the love from the people is very alive," Senna's niece Paula, representing the family, told Reuters Television.

"It seems like Ayrton is living inside people's hearts, so it's beautiful."   Continued...

A man walks past graffiti of Brazil's Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, on the 20th anniversary of his death, in Sao Paulo May 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker