In December 2017, Kenichi Yamamoto, the father of Mazda’s rotary engine program died at 95. While emissions, fuel consumption and general running costs meant his rotary engines weren’t able to achieve the same popularity on the road as conventional petrol engines, Mazda did however put the Wankel to good use in some of the most impressive sounding race cars ever made. As a fitting send off, here are three of Mazda’s finest eardrum-threatening racers.
First up, the 787B
If you’re a fan of Le Mans - or you’ve played a racing game in the last 10 years – you’ll probably know the 787B well. Built in the early ’90s for the fiercely competitive Group C class, the 787B used a R26B rotary unit capable of spitting out nearly 900bhp – although in race trim that was dialled down to ‘just’ 700bhp.
Revealed in 2007, Mazda’s Furai concept car marked a possible return to rotary racing, and although it didn’t happen in the end, we still got to see – and hear it – on track. Based on a Courage LMP2 car, not only is the Furai one of the best looking concept cars ever made, it’s also one of the best sounding. Listen to its 450bhp rotary ‘Renesis’ R20B engine. Listen to it above.
Super GT RX7
Okay, it’s not a prototype or concept car like the other two on this list, but the RX7 Super GT race car has wheelarches wide enough to put a show car to shame, and also features that same piercing rotary scream.