Today's Photo Story - Mazda wins the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans with a rotary engine
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Today's Photo Story - Mazda wins the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans with a rotary engine

On December 15, 1896, a patent for the first rotary engine was granted to Stephen M. Balzer by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. On June 23, 1991, Mazda became both the first Japanese manufacturer and the first marque with a rotary engine to win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, thanks to the 787B.

The sound of a rotary engine, which you either love or can't stand, is like no other. And its reliability is fleeting at best, so it was quite a suprise when Mazda won the 59th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the wake of problems encountered by the Peugeots and Saubers, Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot (both active in F1 at the time) and Volker Weidler claimed the top step on the podium. Well Herbert did so in spirit, he had to be transported to the medical center for dehydration as soon as he crossed the finish line and missed the podium ceremony…

Photo: Copyright - Archives/ACO