Mazda North American Operations Day-One Wrap Up
MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 17, 2012 – Action started yesterday at the 2012 running of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, held annually at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in the hills near the picturesque seaside town of Monterey. As a company with a near-unrivalled heritage of motorsport success, as well as the only Asian car company to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mazda is participating in this year’s event with three significant vehicles from its heritage collection, a 1990 Mazda 787 Group C, a 1991 Mazda RX-7 IMSA GTO and a 1992 Mazda RX-792P IMSA GTP.
- 1990 Mazda 787 (driver: Robert Davis): This car is chassis number 787-002, built for the 1990 running of the Le Mans 24 hour race. The car did not finish the 1990 race, but was re-entered for 1991, finishing in 8th place with Pierre Dieudonne, Takashi Yorino and Yojiro Terada driving. Mazda finished first, sixth and eighth that year. The 787 was one of the first full carbon-composite tub cars, and is powered by a four-rotor rotary engine producing approximately 680 hp. It is in the same livery as when it completed the 1991 Le Mans race.
- 1991 Mazda RX-7 (driver: Jeremy Barnes): This car is chassis number GTO-001, built to compete in the IMSA GTO championship. The car was built for the 1990 season, driven by Pete Halsmer, when it helped Mazda to second place in the manufacturer’s championship. In 1991, Halsmer drove the car to the driver’s championship, as well as helping team-mate Price Cobb secure the manufacturer’s championship for Mazda. In 1994, this chassis also competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing second in the GTS class. It is powered by a four-rotor rotary engine, producing about 640 hp, and is finished in the 1991 championship-winning colors.
- 1992 Mazda RX-792P (driver: Weldon Munsey): This car is chassis number GTP-001, built to compete in the IMSA GTP championship. After winning the GTO championship in 1991, Mazda moved to the top-level GTP (prototype) class for 1992, with two sleek purpose-built racers. This car is a full carbon-composite design, with full ground-effects tunnels that produce in excess of 10,000 pounds of downforce at speed. The car is powered by a four-rotor rotary engine producing close to 720 hp, and is in the same trim as its last race in-the-day, the 1992 Del Mar Grand Prix.
Day one of competition for the three cars went to plan for two of the cars, and presented a challenge for the third. Munsey in the GTP car set the pace for the day, with the fastest time in the combined race group 6B, GTP and Group C cars.
Barnes, in the GTO, was originally designated to run in group 6A, with older GTO cars, but was moved to the faster GTP/Group C class as it was deemed safer to put cars with similar speed potential together on the track. The GTO finished the single on-track session for group 6B in fourth place, behind only three ground-effects GTP cars.
The session presented a little more challenge however for Davis in the 787 Group C car, as he cut the tricky turn six a little tight, bending a suspension component on the left front wheel, and requiring a ride back to the paddock on the back of a tow-truck. Quick work from the support team, as well a helpful local machine shop – Inter-City Manufacturing – that worked overnight to produce a replacement part, will see the car on track for this afternoon’s session.
Of particular note is that all crew members and drivers are employees of Mazda, all volunteering time to support the company’s heritage motorsports efforts.
All three cars are on track for a combined practice and qualifying session today (Friday) at 3:30 pm Pacific. Live in-car video can be seen at www.MazdaUSA.com/motorsports. Results of today’s session, plus pit notes, will be available at the close of the session.
Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
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