Mazda's origin in motorsports dates back to an independent racing team in 1967 under the name 'Mazda Sports Corner' at Mazda Auto Tokyo, Japan's largest Mazda dealer. The Cosmo 110S, powered by the first-ever production rotary engine, showed tremendous potential and the team ambitiously began work to establish a Mazda presence at major motorsports events worldwide. Mazda saw an opportunity to prove the viability of its rotary engine. These similar goals resulted in the racing team's 1968 international debut, where two Cosmos were entered at the Nordshleife, Nuerburgring for the 'Marathon de la Route.' At the conclusion of the 84-hour endurance race, the Cosmo had finished in fourth place.
The Cosmo, later followed by the more practical R100, were campaigned by Mazda racers across the United States, Japan, and Europe in a variety of motorsport events. Among its accolades, an R100 captured class wins and fifth and sixth place overall at the 24 Hours at the Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
After the Cosmos and R100s came the RX-2s and RX-3s. In 1978, Mazda introduced the RX-7, which took the Mazda Sports Corner to new levels of competition. Over the next 12 years, the RX-7 would earn an unprecedented 100 wins in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Series. Since 1975 Mazda has scored 23 class wins at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 13 class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Having enjoyed racing success with production models, the company set their sights on winning the 24 Hours of LeMans, arguably the world's greatest endurance race. Their first attempt was with a model named the 717C, which was designed and built by Mooncraft, with assistance provided from the factory. Powering the 717C was the RX-7's two-rotor rotary engine. At the 1983 edition of LeMans, two 717C cars were entered in the Group C2 class. They finished in 12th and 18th overall.
The Mooncraft-designed cars for 1984 and 1985, becoming the 727C and 737C before a completely new car was built by Mazdaspeed. It was dubbed the 757 and it wore a design by Nigel Stroud. Power was supplied by a three-rotor engine. It raced in the IMSA-spec GTP class during the 1986 and 1987. During its racing career, it would bring Mazda third-place manufacturer finishes each year in the All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship.
For the 1988 season, Stroud was once again called upon to design a new car, the 767. It was powered by an engine known as the 13J, which was a version of the production-derived Type 13 rotary engine. This was the first four-rotor Wankel rotary engine used by Mazda in competition. The engine had a displacement size of just 2.6 liters, yet the non-aspirated powerplant offered an astonishing 580 horsepower in 1988 specification. It had no fewer than four combustion chambers.
To house the engine, Stroud designed a monocoque constructed from aluminum sheets and reinforced by honeycomb core. A modified Porsche five-speed gearbox was mated to the engine. The suspension consisted of double wishbones at all four corners, along with in-board mounted springs and dampers. The body was formed from carbon-fiber and Kevlar composites.
At the Suzuka 500 km in April of 1988, Mazda fielded two 767. At the end of the race, only one example finished, placing seventh overall. This race was followed by the Silverstone World Championship round where a 767 finished ninth overall and first in the GTP class. At LeMans, despite showing tremendous promise, the 767s placed 17th and 19th, partly due to poor fuel economy. At the end of the season, Mazda placed fourth in the 1988 constructors' championship.
Mazda updated the 767 in preparation for the 1989 season. Now called the 767B, it featured a new side-exhaust system along with other improvements to aid in reliability. The engine now offered 630 horsepower. In total, three examples of the 767B were built by Mazdaspeed for 1989.
Although the 767B did not earn outright victories, it did achieve GTP class wins at LeMans, Dijon, Mexico, Spa, Nürburgring, and Brands Hatch.
The 1990 season saw the introduction of the 787, which had a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and an all-new four-rotor engine. Two 787 models were raced at LeMans in 1990, along with a single 767B. The 787s failed to finished, while the 767B came in 20th overall and first in the IMSA GTP class.
Mazda achieved their ultimate goal in 1991 by winning LeMans with the new 787B. By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017
In its never-stop-challenging approach to endurance racing, Mazda took what they learned from its 757 series cars and began the 1988 season with three brand-new Mazda 767s. After moderate success, these three cars were replaced for the 1989 season wi [Read More...]
Sold for $1,750,000 at 2017 Gooding & Company. This Mazda 767B is chassis number 003, one of the three cars built by Mazdaspeed for 1989. It raced at the 1989 24 Hours of LeMans wearing race number 203 and was driven by Yojiro Terada, Marc Duez, and Volker Weidler. It finished third in the GTP cl [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | May 2017
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