The 24 Hours is the World’s toughest endurance race, if you want to test a Driver’s capability, make him drive in Le Mans and you will get the answer. It’s been almost 100 years since the first Le Man race took place in 1923. Every year about 250,000 people come to witness Le Mans, they wait and stay there for more than 24 hours until the race gets over, Le Mans enjoys a very loyal fan base, it isn’t a 90 Minutes short race around a track in open-cockpit cars that anyone can watch like the F1, it demands loyalty which the Le Mans have. This time, I want to talk about probably the best car ever that made its debut in the 1991 Le Mans.
It’s the car that Came, conquered, and won in its first attempt. That engineering Marvel was the Mazda 787B, probably the best race car of all time. It’s also the only rotary car to ever win Le Mans. This car was so technologically advanced and capable that FIA decided to ban it. After this decision one thing became clear that FIA goes by the rule “If it’s good, Ban it, If it’s bad, promote it” FIA has been doing this for years, it has destroyed numerous cars that had great potential in them.
Now let’s talk about some numbers, the Mazda 787B has a 2.6 liter 4 rotor engine which developed 700 Horsepower at 9,000 rpm and 608 Nm torque at 6,500 rpm, what’s interesting that at 10,500 rpm, this screaming monster produced a total of 930 horsepower, just try to think about it, 930 horsepower in a car that weighs in a total at 830Kgs, if we calculate the power to weight ratio of 1.12:1, that’s insane, Mazda was able to achieve this engineering feat in 1991, which engineers even after almost 3 decades, find it difficult to achieve. Just imagine a 2.6-liter engine putting out 930 horsepower, that’s like 358 horsepower/liter. But since the engineers wanted a reliable engine, they kept the peak power at 700 and they achieved it, the R26B was the engine was very reliable contrary to the opinion that Rotary engines have 0 reliability. After the post-race inspection the engineers told the officials that the engine was completely fine, it was good enough to run for another 24 hours without a break, this was something that was unheard of regarding rotary engines. Fuel consumption was the only problem, the engine needed a lot of fuel to run, but the engineers didn’t bother to change it as they would have to reduce power. To get the same amount of power from a piston engine, it needed to be at least twice as big, that’s the cool part, and the Wankel engine is half the size of a piston engine, runs smoother and screams like a monster. The engine weighed just 180 kgs, thus keeping the car light. The Engine had electronic fuel injection and dry sump, and interestingly the engine had 3 spark plugs per rotor, meaning it had almost as many spark plugs as a V12 engine. What’s better than a Manual Transmission in a road car? A Manual Transmission in a Race-car, the 787B featured a 5-speed manual that was provided by Porsche, and the lightweight of just 830kgs was possible due to extensive use of Carbon and Kevlar composites.
The Mazda 787B is the only Japanese car to ever win Le Mans, a few years ago, Toyota was going to change this, but their car faced some technical issue at the end of the race, they were so close to winning yet so far.
The Mazda 787B will forever be a legend, it didn’t get to show its potential, but just in its first year, it made everyone realize, what it was capable of doing if given a chance.
That’s it for this time guys