Friday, May 20, 2011

Mazda 787B restored, returning to Le Mans for 20th anniversary of win

In 1991, Mazda became the first and to this day only Japanese automaker to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans using the 787B you see above. It was also the first and only rotary-powered car to ever win the grueling French endurance race.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of that Le Mans win, and to celebrate that victory, Mazda has restored the original winning 787B and been invited by the event organizers to drive it on the Circuit de la Sarth just a few hours before this year's 79th running of the race.

The 787B is powered by a four-rotor rotary engine producing 700 horsepower, though it was said to be capable of a maximum power output of 900 hp. Even after 20 years, it could probably keep up with today's crop of Le Mans prototype cars.

We don't know yet who will be driving the 787B on June 11, but the man who drove the car across the finish line 20 years earlier, Johnny Herbert, will be on hand, and we're sure he'd be happy to help out if asked.

Check out the amazing gallery of the Mazda team testing the 787B after its recent restoration, and follow the jump for two amazing audio clips of its engine.

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