Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Mazda Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Historic 24 Hours of Le Mans Victory
June 23, 1991 will forever be enshrined in the annals of automotive history as the day an Asian, and to date only, automotive manufacturer won the most prestigious endurance race in the world – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
On this day, 25 years ago, Mazda 787B piloted by then Formula One driver Johnny Herbert, crossed the finished line after 24 grueling hours of on the limit racing. The annual competition is the world’s oldest active endurance race, held first in 1923. It is also considered to be the toughest. That is why when the rotary engine equipped car number 55 (read in Japanese as “Go Go”) was waved the checkered flag, it signified triumph not only on the track but also for the brand that championed the revolutionary rotary engine. After all was said and done, the winning 787B finished 362 laps covering a 4,933-kilometer distance with an average speed of 205.38 km/h.
More than just the achievement of the winning 787B, two other Mazdas took part in the event - another 787B that finished sixth place, and a 787 from the 1990 race season which topped in eight overall. Only nine other cars finished the race out of a total field of 38 campaigners in 1991 further demonstrating the robustness of the screaming R26B rotary engine.
“Mazda has always been about pushing the driving envelope,” shares Steven Tan, President and CEO of Berjaya Auto Philippines, the exclusive distributors of Mazda vehicles in the country. “The Mazda brand is synonymous with the pureness of driving. Mazda engineers, who are racers themselves, know what the driver wants from his car and we take pains to ensure our vehicles deliver class-leading driving dynamics and satisfaction,” adds Tan, himself a former car racing competitor.
The current fleet of Mazda vehicles, which sport SKYACTIV chassis, suspension, body and drivetrain technologies, are all designed to cater to the driver’s basic road instincts. By providing advanced driving feedback and by equipping Mazda vehicles with the latest design and engineering innovations, Mazda continues to resonate the successes it has earned on the track to its growing customer base of true driving enthusiasts.
As for car number 55, it now rests at the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima with only the distinct echoes of its storied past resonating on special occasions. But the driving force behind its success continues to empower the Mazda models of today. So the next time you drive off in a Mazda2, a Mazda3, a Mazda6, a CX-5, a BT-50 and of course, a Mazda MX-5, remember how the spirit of the Mazda 787B and what it stood for on that fateful Sunday, 25 years ago.