2. Savanna RX-7-based prototype becomes the first rotary car to successfully complete Le Mans
In 1979, Mazda Auto Tokyo produced a silhouette formula version of the recently launched Savanna RX-7. Dubbed the 252i, it was powered by the dual-rotor 13B rotary engine. Due to bad weather and various mechanical troubles, it missed the qualification time by a mere 0.7 seconds.
Two years later, two 253s with enhanced aerodynamics were entered in the Int. Motor Sports Assoc. (IMSA) class. They managed to qualify, but dropped out with differential and transmission problems.
In 1982, two Mazda 254s with further improvements were entered for Le Mans. One car retired with a faulty fuel line and the other was just moments from the finish line when it pulled up with engine trouble. However, the car quickly returned to the track and passed the checkered flag to take fourteenth place overall and sixth in the IMSA GTX class.