Sunday, May 19, 2024

Mazda 787B Returns to Goodwood Festival of Speed

The iconic 1991 Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B will make a thrilling comeback at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, enthralling spectators with its unmatched performance. Driven by Johnny Herbert, the famous ‘Renown’-liveried Mazda will take on the hill on Saturday, 15 July, and Sunday, 16 July.

Fresh from recent demonstrations at the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Le Mans Classic, the Mazda 787B is set to make its first appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed since 2015. As part of the centenary celebration of the world’s most famous endurance race, the Mazda 787B will join other renowned Le Mans contenders and winners.

The 1991 Le Mans victory was a defining moment in Mazda’s history, as it became the first Japanese manufacturer to conquer the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Mazda 787B’s distinctive ‘Renown’ livery will grace the Festival of Speed, captivating spectators with its performance. Johnny Herbert, alongside former Grand Prix driver Karun Chandhok and ex-Mazda IMSA factory driver Harry Tincknell, will take turns behind the wheel.

The Mazda rotary engine played a pivotal role in the 1991 Le Mans triumph, exemplifying Mazda’s relentless pursuit of innovation. With its four-rotor R26B engine’s unforgettable roar, the Mazda 787B completed 362 laps, making only 28 pit stops for minimal maintenance. This victory showcased the reliability, efficiency, and performance of Mazda’s rotary engine technology.

Driven by Herbert, Volker Weidler, and Bertrand Gachot, the Mazda 787B steadily climbed the ranks from twenty-third place on the grid. By the halfway point of the race, it secured third place, ultimately inheriting the lead following the retirement of the leading Mercedes-Benz. The victory marked a monumental achievement, as it was the last opportunity for a rotary engine to win at Le Mans before it was banned in 1992.

The Mazda 787B’s historic win not only highlighted Mazda’s engineering prowess but also represented an international effort. The collaboration between Mazdaspeed, the French ORECA organization, British chassis designer Nigel Stroud, and Belgian team consultant Jacky Ickx contributed to the car’s success.

Retired after the race, Mazda 787B chassis 002 now resides in the Mazda HQ museum in Hiroshima, where it continues to captivate car enthusiasts worldwide. Its return to the Goodwood Festival of Speed will remind fans of its enduring legacy.

The Mazda 787B’s upcoming appearance at Goodwood reinforces its status as an icon in motorsport and commemorates a significant milestone in Mazda’s 103-year history.