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

Report&Interviews

  • 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

Keiichiro Sueshige Keiichiro Sueshige

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

Current role: Powertrain System Development Dept., Powertrain Development Div.

Winning Le Mans through team spirit

"This is my chance!" That's what I thought when I was asked to help with testing and research for our motorsports engine. I was to work on developing circuit simulation software. Circuit simulation uses computer models to determine lap times and fuel consumption, and work out the optimal driving style and engine settings for a particular race track.

The circuit at Le Mans is a road course, so for most of the year it is public road. We know what the course looks like, but we cannot carry out any actual testing. For this reason, creating a computer simulation is particularly important for Le Mans. However, creating a simulation is by no means easy; we need to match theoretical analysis with real world measurements. The project took two years. Every month we went to the Fuji Speedway to conduct tests, and then during the winter when the track was covered in snow, we compiled all the data we had gathered and worked on the theory.

As is normal in race development, there is huge pressure to solve problems immediately. Fortunately, all of us in the team love motorsports, love cars and love the rotary engine. I think we won the race because everyone in the team shared a passion that created a strong team spirit. If any one person had not been in that team, I don't think we could have won.

Our conviction was key to the success of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY

Whenever you start something new, there is always some conflict or opposition, but if you continue with determination you will get a result. There will be people who automatically raise objections at the beginning, but the key is to involve them and carry them forward. I think that "not knowing when to give up" is one of Mazda's strengths.

When we began to develop the SKYACTIV-DRIVE transmission, we faced major challenges such as achieving a direct shift feel, quick response, and good fuel economy, as well as meeting the requirements for mass production. There were people who thought it would be safer to outsource the transmission to an external manufacturer. However, the transmission is a core technology that is key to achieving the desired driving feel in a vehicle. We were determined that Mazda should keep control and build up our technological capabilities. I feel that our conviction was key to the success of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY.

Mazda's strengths and spirit of challenge

Mazda has a relatively small scale, which presents various limitations, but it also encourages us to come up with innovative ideas and novel solutions. And it encourages us to accelerate implementation once the approval process is complete. I think it is important to be able to make quick decisions about what to persevere with and what to reject.

The future of Mazda and Japan lies in the hands of our next generation of engineers. It is important that they have plenty of opportunities to explore their potential and try things until they are successful. I think Mazda's spirit encourages this kind of challenge.

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

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

Kazutoyo Watanabe
Mazda's victory in 1991 was by no means lucky.
Kazutoyo Watanabe Interview

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

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