Mazda 787B: Celebrating 100 Years at Le Mans
The only engine-less car to have ever emerged the victor at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be welcomed back with open arms to the Le Mans Sarthe track in honor of the centennial of the momentous occasion. 2023 is set to host the 91st edition of the world-renowned 24-hour endurance event from 7-11 June – commemorating 100 years since its inaugural contest.
In order to commemorate, the Auto Club de l’Ouest (ACO) organizers welcomed various car producers for full-road test drives on June 9th and 10th; Mazda and Toyota Gazoo Racing being two of them.
The inimitable 787B is unquestionably a legendary car, having accomplished the remarkable feat of becoming the inaugurating piston-free car to victoriously secure the win in 1991 and the first Japanese manufacturer to triumph within Le Mans. Subsequently, Toyota has enjoyed a plentitude of success; however, no other rotary engine has reaped similar fame.
Yojiro Terada, an experienced 29-time Le Mans driver, is set to take the wheel of the 787B. His fascination with Mazda commenced with his initial appearance at Le Mans in 1974, while embarking on 16 more events in later years, including various turns behind the wheel of the rotary-powered Mazda RX-7 and its predecessor, the 767.
Despite Terada not having a place on the victorious team of 1991, he had piloted the Mazda 787 racer in the same year, exhibiting similar facilities while slightly differing measurements. Therefore, he has some knowledge of the Le Mans series racing car.
The chassis of both autos varied slightly, yet both had the unforgettable R26B four-cylinder Wankel motor. This 2.6l unit provided up to 900 horsepower however was allegedly modified for racing purposes to only create 700 horses, evidently demonstrating this amount worked Ok.
Other than its racetrack accomplishments, the 787B will be put on exhibition alongside former title-holders in the Le Mans Museum from June 1st to July 2nd. The venue is situated close-by to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Mazda is taking advantage of the Le Mans Centennial race week to join forces with Toyota and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in order to promote Japanese tourism and Japan’s carbon-neutrality objectives through the “Japan Endless Discovery” exhibition. The MX-30, Mazda’s only existing Electric Vehicle, will be featured at the event. Paying homage to the 787B, the MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV, a range-extender variation of the MX-30 that is powered by a rotary engine, will also be showcased.