14. The last rotary race? Disappointment at Le Mans 1990
It was thought that 1990 would be the last time rotary engines would be allowed to race at Le Mans, so Mazda was leaving no stone unturned in its bid for overall victory. Six-time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx was appointed head consultant, and experienced drivers were drafted in from Formula One. Mazda adopted a three-car setup for the race with two 787s and one 767B.
At four p.m., the race got underway. Soon after passing the 12-hour mark, problems began to arise for the two 787s. Brake discs and pads and one rear wheel hub had to be changed, and the cars began to overheat and suffer from fuel percolation (vapor lock). One car dropped out with a damaged side housing and the other retired due to a wiring harness problem. The remaining 767B also experienced its fair share of trouble. A headlamp was damaged and the mechanics had to repair the rear axle bearing and replace both the driveshaft and the gearbox. It came over the line first in the IMSA GTP class, but could not manage better than 20th overall.