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Rotary Love At The Mazda Fan Festa

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If you happen to take a look at the present line up of Mazda automobiles on sale, you’d hardly choose the small Japanese automaker’s motorsport roots.

However rewind into Mazda’s historical past books, and also you’ll discover a very totally different firm, hell-bent on dominating race tracks domestically and on the worldwide stage. Final weekend, Fuji Speedway performed host to the Mazda Fan Festa, the place the previous and current of the Mazda Motor Company was celebrated in one of the best ways doable.

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You’ll be able to’t commemorate Mazda’s achievements with out mentioning the 1991 24 Hours of Le Mans race. This yr, Le Mans celebrates its one centesimal anniversary, so there was an extra-special cause for Mazda to carry out the ’91 race-winning 787B for the Fan Festa.

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As a part of the official centenary celebrations at Circuit de la Sarthe in France, the 787B participated in a particular profitable automobiles parade. Again on house soil on the Fan Festa, the R26B-powered sports activities automobile joined different Mazdas that had beforehand entered the best endurance race of all time and different important occasions all world wide. As the one rotary-powered automobile to ever win Le Mans, the 787B proved simply how far Mazda’s engineers pushed the Wankel engine.

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Other than its Le Mans automobiles on show, Mazda assembled an A-Staff of rotary tuners and related aftermarket elements producers to hitch within the celebrations. Purveyors of wheels, tyres, brakes, suspension and seats arrange stalls alongside rotary tuning legends like RE Amemiya and Fujita Engineering (FEED).

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I at all times find yourself lacking half the issues on show and different actions at these sort of occasions. I discover myself repelled by crowds to quiet corners the place bizarre automobiles sit unnoticed by the plenty, or on scorching days like this one, spending a while within the shade with a chilly drink in hand. It’s why I missed the show of factory-restored RX-7s, the ‘Change into An Engineer Expertise’ for youths, the ‘Strive!! Mazda RC Faculty’, the ‘Akita Canine Interplay Nook’ and the ‘Clay Modeling Expertise’. Nonetheless, what I did see was value lacking the stuff I didn’t.

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An honest grid of historic Mazda race automobiles weren’t solely on show, however had a number of parade runs and pleasant laps round Fuji Speedway.

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Again within the Seventies, among the best-looking and best-performing automobiles within the Japanese Touring Automobile Championship (JTCC) have been rotary Mazdas, and it was nice to see R100s and RX-3s in motion 50-odd years after a few of them competed, at one of many unique locations they did it.

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That is the way in which to have a good time these legendary automobiles, engines revving, with sweaty drivers grinning from ear to ear as they relive the uncooked ambiance of yesteryear. A residing, respiration museum like that is so a lot better than a static one.

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The rotary engine sadly went out of manufacturing in 2012, final seen within the RX-8. However though it ceased to be utilized in any new fashions, it by no means actually went away. The manufacturing facility which constructed the Mazda rotary stays largely because it was, with a small staff of expert machinists nonetheless making elements by hand on most of the similar machines used to construct the unique engines. If that’s not testomony to the innovation and ingenuity of the early Mazda rotary engineers, I don’t know what’s.

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The story will get much more outstanding, with Mazda resurrecting the rotary engine after a 10-year hiatus. Kind of. True to its slogan of ‘Unrelenting Problem’, Mazda engineers have efficiently married the rotary with an EV powertrain, utilizing the compact rotary engine as an influence generator to recharge the batteries of the brand new MX-30. It appears like a little bit of a kick within the guts for the engine that as soon as powered trendy classics just like the RX-7 – and in 4-rotor configuration the 787B – however no less than it will get to stay on, even whether it is as a sort of hand servant to an EV motor.

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It additionally implies that the traditionally important manufacturing facility stuffed with classic machines used to hand-craft the 10A, 12A, 13B and 20B can proceed to construct elements for one of many most fascinating inside combustion engines of our time. Which in flip means a continuing provide of elements for traditional RX-series Mazdas. To not point out these Mazda Le Mans heroes, which we’ll take a look at nearer in a follow-up function.

Toby Thyer
Instagram _tobinsta_
tobythyer.co.uk

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