MAZDA Stories: 30th anniversary of the Mazda Le Mans win; how Mazda won the greatest motorsport event in the world

by | Oct 17, 2021 | 0 comments

Thirty years ago, at 4 pm on Sunday June 23, 1991, as Johnny Herbert flew down the Mulsanne Straight in his orange Mazda 787B, he received crackly news over the team radio. Herbert and his Mazdaspeed teammates—Mazda’s motorsports subsidiary—had won the brutal 24 Hours of Le Mans, endurance racing’s most famous event. It was an enormously popular and historic victory. No other rotary-powered car had ever won the race before, and Mazda was the first Japanese manufacturer to win the event.

On the 30th anniversary of this famous victory

The belief in their engine, unmatched by any other auto competitors, proved to be the most testing decision for the race ever! Only one year ahead of Mazda’s 100th anniversary, this year marked the 30th anniversary of the big win. Mazda’s heart-pumping victory in the non-stop 24 hours Le Mans, speaks for itself. The brand was crowned as the first Japanese auto manufacturer to own the 59th Le Mans.

Let’s jump back to the adrenaline-rushing journey of winning Le Mans from the start of the longest lap to the end of the most cherished lap.

How it happened:

Mazda’s engine made its way to Le Mans for the first time in 1970. Things took a change for the better in 1983 for Mazda when Takayoshi Ohashi’s Mazda auto Tokyo team became the subordinate of Mazda and was renamed as MazdaSpeed.

The 1990 race, however, had an end result of Mazda’s 767B finishing 20th. Known for its ‘never stop challenging’ moto, Mazda took this as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board, learn, improve and make a timely comeback! Mazda 787B was born with the original version of the engine being a 13B with a displacement of 554cc x 2 rotors. Mazda upgraded the power output of the 13J by more than 10 percent.

In the year 1990, Mazda continued refining the intake system, the ignition and introduced a control system that made the use of fuel more efficient. The power output of the four-rotor RE engine pumped up to 700PS. 787B became faster and lighter with just 830kgs. Numbered 55, it finished 362 laps on the 13.6 km long Circuit de la Sarthe, approximately 4,923 km. Volker Weidler, Germany, Johnny Herbert, UK and Bertrand Gachot, France. These track leaders were at the helm of driving the 787B assigned to different laps.

To know more about Mazda’s victory at Le Mans, visit

Never stop challenging

Racing is in Mazda’s DNA and it never stops chasing perfection. Le Mans was the representation of having the drive in you under any circumstance and being driven over any limits. This is what our current models represent and this is what our future models will embody.

Relive these moments in a Mazda
Drop by our nearest Mazda showroom and experience a test drive of the model you most connect with or simply log on to our official app or jump over to to book a test drive and schedule your visit.


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