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Tinnitus from the rotary engine: Le Mans victory for the Mazda 787B

Tinnitus from the rotary engine: Le Mans victory for the Mazda 787B

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In its hundred years, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has produced plenty of interesting winning cars.

A wide variety of concepts, drives and technologies have prevailed over the course of the century in the long-distance classic. The winning car from 1991 is possibly the one with the most distinctive sound: the Mazda 787B. The reason for its unmistakable sound is the Wankel engine that led the Japanese Group C sports car to victory.

The ck modelcars label WERK83 has released the Mazda 787B in scale 1:18. Even if the model stands there in silence, Le Mans fans should immediately hear the screeching sound of the rotary piston engine when they see it. Original recordings and YouTube videos still bear witness to the martial acoustics more than three decades after the victory. And even with rare demo drives, the Mazda still provides ecstasy.

The 787B was not only the single Japanese Le Mans winner before Toyota's winning streak from 2018, but is also the only winning car with a rotary engine to date. The success came unexpectedly, but not by accident. With its predecessor, the 767, Mazda had already gained experience with a Wankel engine prototype at the Sarthe. Similar to the first version of the subsequent 787, the engine power could reach up to 900 hp.

With the 787B launched in 1991, Mazda reduced the engine power and instead focused its development on durability - a path that would prove to be the right one against the competition. Peugeot led with the 905 in the early stages but retired soon after. Jaguar was struggling with too much fuel consumption and consequently didn't have a winning pace. Mercedes-Benz led through the night with its C11, but initially lost two of the three cars from the battle for victory on Sunday. When the third car, which was in the lead, also had to retire, the Mazda team jumped into the breach and won.

The 787B was piloted by Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and German Volker Weidler. In the same year, Herbert and Gachot drove in Formula 1. Herbert started for Lotus, the Belgian Gachot for Jordan. There Michael Schumacher stepped in for his debut in the premier class at Spa-Francorchamps after Gachot was imprisoned after an alleged attack on a taxi driver. As the third in the group, Volker Weidler had already had a seat in Formula 1 two years earlier. However, Weidler always failed in the pre-qualification in the Rial team. The Le Mans victory that followed was his greatest motorsport success, but it came at a price. As a result, Weidler suffered from severe tinnitus, which was probably caused by the noise and vibration of the infernal engine and led to the end of his career. The career of the Wankel engine in Le Mans also ended after the victory of the Mazda 787B, because such rotary piston engines were banned from the following year.

The doors of the WERK83 model in scale 1:18 of the Mazda can be opened, allowing the faithfully reproduced cockpit to be examined.

 

Mazda 787B #55 Winner 24h LeMans 1991 Weidler, Herbert, Gachot 1:18 WERK83, RRP €69,95, item-no.: W1802701



©

[30.08.2023] Porsche's first winner at Le Mans: The 917 from 1970

[22.08.2023] The "super-Cayman" with the heart of the 911 GT3



 
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