• Mazda 787B

Dodgy spaghetti and the Mazda 787B

Not your average looking Mazda. The Mazda 787B was a Group C sports prototype racing car built by Mazda for use in the World Sportscar Championship, All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1990 to 1991. The 787B was the last Wankel rotary-powered racing cars to compete in the World and Japanese championships, using Mazda's R26B engine.

The 59th 24 Hours of Le Mans, round four of the World Sportscar Championship, was the first time the race took place at the entirely new pit complex much to the pleasure of pit crews and drivers, after several years of having to use the notoriously cramped area, which became associated with the film Le Mans.

Mazdaspeed entered three cars and a spare. One of them was a 787 from the previous year, numbered 56, driven by Dieudonné, Yorino and Terada and two brand new 787B's. One of them was driven by Maurizio Sandro Sala who replaced the newly retired Katayama, Johansson and Kennedy numbered 18 (001) and the No. 55 (002) car of Weidler, Herbert and Gachot making its only appearance in its only race.

Car no. 55 car took the lead after the C11 of Alain Ferté was forced to pit with mechanical problems. At the last pit-stop, Herbert asked to stay in the car, and went on to take the 787B across the finish line first, completing 362 laps and covering 4932.2 km (both new records for the recently modified circuit).

Herbert was so dehydrated that he had to be assisted out of the car and taken to the circuit's medical centre. As a result, he was unable to make it to the podium, leaving Weidler and Gachot to take up the celebrations. He later commented in a magazine interview that some “dodgy” spaghetti he ate before his shift was the cause.

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