The rotary has also taken its place in motor racing history. In April 1969 the Familia Rotary Coupé won the Singapore Grand Prix, finished 5th at Spa Francorchamps 24-hour race and 5th in the Marathon de la Route 84-hour race. The following year Mazda took 8th place in the British RAC Tourist Trophy race and 4th in the German Touring Car Grand Prix and finished in a dead heat in 1st with the BMW team at Spa Francorchamps.
The Savanna RX-3 dominated the Japanese Touring Car Championship in 1972 taking 100 race wins by 1976.
The Mazda RX-7 entered the IMSA championship in 1978 and won the GTU class in the Daytona 24-hour race. Between 1980 and 1987 Mazda never lost a race in the GTU class, a record that has not been broken. Mazda won the GTU class 10 times and by 1990 it had chalked up another record, 100 IMSA wins.
The Mazda RX-7 also won the British Saloon Car Championship, the Belgium Touring Car and the Australian Touring Car Endurance race and in 1992, 1993 and 1994 it won the Bathurst endurance race. In 1981 the Mazda RX-7 won the Spa Francorchamps 24-hour race.
Mazda also entered the world rally stage and in 1985 a Mazda RX-7 finished 3rd overall in the Acropolis Rally.
Mazda turned its attentions to Le Mans in 1983 with the 717C, but the ultimate endurance prize eluded the Mazda team until 1991 and the 787B. This car was a huge surprise at the 24-Hour of Le Mans in 1991. The car won the race with an average speed of 128.33mph, covering 3077 miles in 24 hours driven by Englishman Johnny Herbert. There was no better way to prove the performance potential and durability of the rotary engine concept than by winning this renowned endurance race.Published 21 June 2003