The Mazda 787B will make a triumphant return at the Le Mans centenary celebrations.
The only pistonless car to even win the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be making a triumphant return to the Le Mans Sarthe Circuit as part of the centenary celebrations of the event. 2023 will see the 91st running of the famous 24-hour endurance race from 7-11 June, marking 100 years since its inaugural running.
To celebrate, the event organizers, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), have invited various manufacturers to participate in full-circuit demo runs on the 9th and 10th of June, including Mazda and Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The 787B is an undisputed icon, having won at Le Mans in 1991 when it became the first pistonless car to win and the first Japanese manufacturer to take the victory. Toyota has subsequently seen its fair share of dominance, but there has never been another rotary engine to succeed.
Driving the 787B will be 29-time Le Mans racer Yojiro Terada, whose debut at Le Mans was in a Mazda in 1974, followed by another 16 Mazda entries in subsequent years, including many drives in rotary-powered Mazda RX-7s and the 787B's predecessor, the 767.
While Terada was not a part of the winning campaign in 1991, he did pilot the Mazda 787 base car that same year, a racer with the same effective chassis and engine but marginally different dimensions, meaning he has some experience with the Le Mans racing chassis.
While the chassis of the two cars were slightly different, both were powered by the iconic R26B four-rotor Wankel engine. This 2.6-liter motor was able to produce as much as 900 horsepower but was reportedly detuned in race guise to just 700 ponies for the sake of reliability. 700 was clearly enough.
Aside from its on-track performances, the 787B will be displayed alongside the winners from previous years at the Le Mans Museum from 1 June to 2 July, which is located close to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Mazda will also use the occasion of the Le Mans Centennial race week to partner with Toyota and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) for the "Japan Endless Discovery" exhibition, promoting Japanese tourism and Japan's carbon-neutrality goals. To this end, Mazda's only current EV, the MX-30, will be displayed. However, tying in with the 787B's history, it will be the rotary-engined MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV, the range-extender version of the MX-30.
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