Victory at Le Mans 20th Anniversary - Never Stop Challenging - Mazda's Enduring Spirit


  • Le Mans Report
  • Challenging Spirit
  • Through the Generations

Through the Generations From Le Mans to the present and on to the future, Mazda does not stop challenging

Kazutoyo Watanabe Kazutoyo Watanabe

1991 role: ME Testing & Research Gr., Powertrain Testing & Research Dept.

Current role: PT Technology Element Development Gr., Powertrain Technology Development Dept., Powertrain Development Div.

Racing is about beating your own targets

In 1991, I was 31 years old and working on engine performance development and exhaust systems in particular. I was extremely lucky to be part of the team that went to Le Mans, but I remember that when we won, I didn't immediately feel excited. It was only later, when I was looking at the 787B back in the garage, that the feeling began to sink in.

Working in a racing team is a lot more demanding than it seems. We worked late into the night during the development stage, and for the race itself, we were awake for over 40 hours. This fatigue tends to dull your nerves. For me, the greatest satisfaction and pleasure comes from being able to directly experience and share the excitement of the fans.

Mazda's victory in 1991 was by no means lucky. I somehow feel that, at the very end, the gods rewarded us for all our hard work. The road to victory was tough, but we managed to maintain a belief in ourselves, and I think this provided important motivation. I also feel that the bitter disappointment from the year before (1990) also helped to drive us forward.

For all of us involved on the R&D side, I think the number of laps we completed was actually more important than winning the race. Racing is about beating your opponents, but more than that, it is also about beating your own targets.

The continual evolution of Mazda's advanced technology

Mazda is famous for being the only company in the world to mass produce rotary engines, and many engineers joined Mazda specifically to work on it. However, our passion and dreams are not limited to only the rotary, and we also continue to push forward with our other engines. This ambition is part of Mazda's DNA and it pulses in our veins today as strongly as ever.

With the new SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, we began by setting aims that were so high we honestly did not know if it would be possible to succeed. However, the development project leader, Mitsuo Hitomi (Executive Officer and General Manager of the Powertrain Development Div.) had analyzed the targets and found them to be theoretically possible. "I didn't just dream them up," he said, "they are definitely possible." Our engineers all came together in pursuit of these challenging targets, and eventually we found the answers.

And even though we have successfully developed the new engines, we are not sitting still. Everyday, we work to make them even better. I feel this determination is the secret behind Mazda's new advanced technologies. It is always difficult to accomplish something that no one else has, but Mazda never gives up the fight.

Keiichiro Sueshige
"Not knowing when to give up" is one of Mazda's strengths.
Keiichiro Sueshige Interview

1991 role: Powertrain Control Systems Testing & Research Gr., Powertrain Testing & Research Dept.

Toshihide Koyama
Mazda is filled with ambitious, confident people.
Toshihide Koyama Interview

1991 role: Chassis Engineering Gr., Vehicle Engineering Dept.

See more information and videos about Mazda's new breakthrough SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY