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     787B
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  Mazda 787B
 

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Country of origin:Japan
Produced in:1991
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Nigel Stroud for Mazdaspeed
Predecessor:Mazda 787
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 02, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMazda entered the record books in 1991 as the first Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright. Of the three companies from the land of the rising sun, Mazda was the smallest and the least likely to achieve this feat. Nissan and Toyota were however outdone by a combination of meticulous preparation and a superb drive in a gradually developed machine.

Like all of Mazda's previous racing efforts, the endurance program served to showcase the capabilities of the 'Wankel' or 'rotary' engine the manufacturer had already secured a license for in 1961. Up until 1991 the Mazda prototypes were not capable of keeping up with the conventionally engined competition and had to contend to 'IMSA GTP' class victories. Time was running out, however, as drastic engine regulation changes would soon make the rotary engine illegal.

In 1990 Mazda debuted the all-new 787 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Like the company's previous prototypes, the chassis was designed by Nigel Stroud and constructed in England. The tubs were then sent to Japan for completion by Mazda's racing subsidiary Mazdaspeed. What set it apart from the earlier designs, was the use of carbon-fibre composites with a honeycomb structure for the complete chassis. For 1991 the suspension geometry was changed to accommodate for larger wheels and carbon-ceramic discs were fitted for the first time to create the 787B.

Three decades of constant development had resulted in the R26B rotary engine, which featured four rotors, variable inlet trumpets and three spark plugs per rotor. One of the biggest modifications compared to the 1990 version of the R26B was the variable trumpet system, which was now continuously variable instead of sliding between several predetermined positions. At 9,000 rpm the compact engine produced an impressive 700 bhp and torque was increased to 608 Nm at 6,500.

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  Article Image gallery (35) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (1)