Chapter 1: Motor sport challenges in Europe (10/10)
10. The Belgium Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour endurance race (1981)
The Belgium Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour endurance race (1981) Mazda never forgot the disappointment of three of its four cars retiring in 1970, but it wasnft until 11 years later that it finally returned to take on the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race again. This time, the team prepared three RX-7s for the grueling event.
The lead RX-7 driven by Tom Walkinshaw started from the second row on the grid, and settled into second place behind one of the BMWfs despite determined challenges from a Ford Capri that was close behind. The last three hours saw the RX-7 and BMW 530 alone on the lead lap, and with just two hours remaining before the finish line, the
RX-7 finally managed to snatch the lead. The BMW kept up the pursuit for a further 60 minutes, until one it its cylinders began to falter. After nearly a whole day of fierce competition, the RX-7 gradually began to pull away and went on to claim a splendid overall victory. It was the first ever such success for a Japanese car.