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Rotary Wail Returns To Le Mans For 20th Anniversary

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The scream of a rotary engine and the iconic orange and green of Renown sponsorship will return to the Circuit de la Sarthe this year when the Mazda 787B runs a demonstration lap on the 20th anniversary of its Le Mans 24 Hours victory.

Mazda plans to run the demonstration at 12:30pm on Saturday June 11, in the build up to the start of the 79th Le Mans 24 Hours at 3pm. The 787B will follow racing machinery from the 40s, 50s and 60s, which are racing earlier on the same day.

The 1991 race was the last event where the rotary engine was legal, and with drivers Johnny Herbert, Bertand Gachot and Volker Weidler the car completed 362 laps to accomplish Mazda's aim of winning the Grand Prix de l'Endurance in their 17 years of effort.

Since then the winning car has sat in the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, before being restored back to driving condition by current Mazda employees who were also part of the manufacturer's original Le Mans Project, together with employees of Mazda's engineering subsidiary, Mazda E&T. The car was then tested by Mazda's in-house development drivers before former works drivers Yoshimi Katayama, Takashi Yorino and Yojiro Terada ran the car at the marque's proving ground.

As well as running a demonstration, at the invitation of organiser the Auto Club de l'Ouest, the 787B will also take part in the Drivers Parade through Le Mans city centre on Friday June 10. Members of the 1991 team will also be in attendance, led by winning driver Johnny Herbert. The Briton's fellow 1991 alumni David Kennedy and Pierre Dieudonné as will actor and racer Patrick Dempsey, who currently drives a Mazda RX-8 in the GT class in the Grand-Am series in America.

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