The 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was marked by the twentieth anniversary of Mazda's victory, the only Japanese manufacturer to have won in La Sarthe. This video clip looks back on that celebration.
It starts with the build-up in the afternoon of Thursday the 9th of June. Two years after his participation in the 24 Hours in a Ferrari, Patrick Dempsey was back at Le Mans. In 2011, his racing team partnered with Mazda in the United States, and the actor/driver drove on the 13 km in the 787 B prototype that won in 1991 ... although with great caution, because, in his own words, "this car is now a national treasure in Japan! '
Then, on the morning of Saturday the 11th of June the Mazda 787B was on the track for another demonstration run in the hands of Johnny Herbert, who twenty years earlier had scored the victory with Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler. Johnny was finally able to mount the podium which he was deprived of in 1991, when after taking the chequered flag, he was taken ill due to dehydration and was unable to celebrate his victory on the podium with two team mates. This injustice was put right twenty years later with celebration that included the distinctive strident sound of the Mazda 787 B and its rotary engine, the only one of its kind to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours.
This beautiful piece of history ends with a small family photo with Johnny Herbert of course, but also David Kennedy and Pierre Dieudonné, two other drivers in the epic Mazda story at Le Mans. Also in this video alongside Patrick Dempsey, is Yojiro Terada, the Japanese driver with thirty participations in the 24 hours.