The 1979 World Go-Kart Championship, which took place at the Estoril track in Portugal, was decided on September 23, after a tie for first place in the standings. Dutch Peter Koene, Ayrton Senna’s teammate at DAP, ended up with the title, while the Brazilian became the runner-up.
According to the Brazilian team, if both drivers had the same amount of points in the end, the deciding factor was going to be the head-to-head comparison between both drivers in the last heat of the final round, which Senna had won with a comfortable lead.
The first heat had been won by another Dutch, Peter De Brujin, who was Senna’s main rival in the competition. Ayrton took the lead after starting in eighth place, but he finished the race in fifth due to engine issues.
In the second heat, it was De Brujin’s turn to experience engine problems and retire from the race. Senna was in the lead, but ended up being overtaken by Peter Koene, who won. Ayrton finished in second.
With a tie between Koene and Senna, the tournament directors’ interpretation of the rules differed from the Brazilians’, and they gave the title to Koene, thanks to the semifinals results, when he finished in fourth place, while Senna finished in eighth.
it’s worth mentioning how Ayrton ended up in eighth place in the semifinal. The Brazilian was in second until the last few laps. But the leader of the race had a problem right in front of Ayrton, who didn’t have enough time to avoid a collision, making both of them spin out.
As a runner-up in 1979 and also in 1980 (in Belgium), Ayrton learned a lot – he would go on to win titles in all the following motor sports categories in which he raced.