Celebrating a Historic Win
As the world gears up for the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there’s a special treat in store for motor enthusiasts. The Mazda 787B, winner of the iconic 1991 race, is set to roar once more around the Circuit de le Sarthe for a demonstration run, alongside other winning cars.
This comes as Mazda becomes the first Japanese manufacturer to ever clinch a win at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, marking an unforgettable moment in the brand’s history.
The 787B: A Symbol of Mazda’s Spirit
With its unique four-rotor engine, the Mazda 787B swiftly carved its name into the annals of motor racing history by becoming the first Japanese car to win Le Mans. The demonstration run was an invitation from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to commemorate the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The car will be driven by veteran Le Mans competitor Yojiro Terada, who finished 8th in the 1991 race driving a Mazda 787 sister car.
Celebrating the Past and Future
As part of the festivities, the Le Mans Museum will showcase up to 70 winning cars from previous races from 1st June to 2nd July. The demonstration run of the Mazda 787B will take place during the Centennial race week, alongside iconic Le Mans-winning cars from Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Moreover, in collaboration with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), Toyota, and Mazda, a themed exhibition titled “Japan Endless Discovery” will highlight Japan’s commitment to carbon neutrality. Mazda will be exhibiting the Mazda MX-30 R-EV, a vehicle equipped with revolutionary rotary engine technology serving as an electric generator.
Reliving the Glory of the Mazda 787B
The 1991 Le Mans victory was a testament to Mazda’s “never stop challenging” ethos. The winning Mazda 787B covered an impressive 362 laps of the legendary French circuit and over its 28 pit stops required minimal maintenance, proving the reliability and efficiency of Mazda’s unique rotary engine technology.
A Journey Towards Success
The road to this remarkable achievement was not without its challenges. From their first Le Mans entry in 1970 with the Belgian outfit Team Levi’s International’s Chevron B16 powered by a twin-rotor Mazda 10A engine, to the appearance of RX-7s in the late 70s and early 80s, Mazda continually pushed the boundaries of motor racing technology.
The successful transition from RX-7s to the Group C era with bespoke cars like the Mazda 717C, 757, 767B, and the groundbreaking 787B was a testament to Mazda’s unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence.
The Legacy Continues
Immediately after its historic win, the Mazda 787B, still in its bold livery by Japanese clothing sponsor Renown, retired from competition and now resides at Mazda’s HQ in Hiroshima.
Despite the decades that have passed since its victory, the Mazda 787B still captivates car fans globally, and its demonstration run at this year’s Centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans is sure to be a mesmerising spectacle, echoing a brilliant past while inspiring a future fuelled by resilience and innovation.