The Mazda 787B with the drivers Volker Weidler, Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot won the 59th version of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the starting number 55 and drove for the team Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd. The lable Kyosho, kown for its high quality diecast modelcars, is reminiscent of the success and the unique drive with the miniatures of the item number KSR08665A-B made from polyurethane resine. The 787B was the first winner in Le Mans, which was powered by a rotary piston engine known as the Wankel engine. The 59th Grand Prix d'Endurance les 24 Heures du Mans was held on June 22nd to 23rd, 1991, at the Circuit des 24 Heures. We look back on a weekend, at which Mercedes-Benz was considered as favorite.
Mazdaspeed brought three Mazda 787B to the track at the Sarthe and trusted on the power of the 2.6 liter big Wankel engine. It can be seen from the statements of the colleagues in the trade press that these engines were considered fuel-saving, but because of the extreme volume of the rotary piston engine, they became a burden for the pilots. Significant advantages over a reciprocating piston engine: the Wankel engine has fewer moving parts, a smaller space requirement and thus a lower weight. An unfavorably shaped combustion chamber and longer sealing surfaces are among the biggest disadvantages of this concept invented by Felix Wankel, which was popularized primarily by the NSU Ro80, but lacked durability. Mazda also devoted itself to this drive concept, but did not really use the victory at Le Mans to market it.
At the weekend, mentioned above, it seemed that Mercedes-Benz would take home the victory in this 4th round of the sport car world championship 1991. On Sunday morning, however, a broken underbody and gearbox problems of two cars with the star caused difficulties. Three hours before the end, the third Mercedes-Benz C11 got an engine damage. Thus the way was free for the Mazda with Herbert, Weidler and Gachnot. Herbert made it not to the award ceremony because of exhaustion. From the 46 registered cars, 46 were started and twelve were rated. Mazda won in summer weather infront of about 250,000 fans after a completed distance of 4922.81 kilometers with an everage speed of 205.333. Incidentally, Michael Schumacher drove the fastest race lap on a Mercedes-Benz C11 with 3.35.564 minutes and 227.125 kilometers per hour.