Mazda had to wait until 1991 for its first Le Mans win, with Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot behind the wheel of a 787B, the 767’s replacement. Could the 767 be branded as a failure, then? No, absolutely not. Without the 767 and 767B Mazda wouldn’t have been able to refine the rotary recipe and go on to become the first Japanese manufacturer to finish on top at Le Mans. Perhaps more importantly for rotary-engined road car fans, racing technology trickles down to the cars we see in showrooms, and without Mazda’s determination to make the 757, 767 and 787 work we might never have seen cars like the RX-7 or RX-8.
As for the 767B you’re listening to here, driven by American racer Jonathan Bomarito, it isn’t being pushed particularly hard (understandably so, given the car’s £1.5-£2 million value) and the gear ratios are all wrong for Laguna Seca, but the sound is something to savour. Rotary engines aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but it’s still very much worth watching.
Goodwood image by Nick Dungan.