1983 Mazda 717C #60 Pilots: T. Yorino, Y. Terada, Y. Katayama Team: Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd Race: 12th overall (first in C Jr. class) at Le Mans in 1983 Spark (pw) - HACHLM55 (diecast)
Whenever you think about Mazda and Le Mans, obviously the impressive 787B comes to mind. And it should, since that was the first time a Japanese car won at Le Mans. Besides, it was the only time a Wankel-powered car won. Nonetheless, Mazda’s history at La Sarthe began much earlier. In fact, it began in 1970, when Mazda supplied their 10A rotary engine for a Chevron B16. Years later, in 1979, Mazda created an IMSA-spec RX-7 specifically for Le Mans. Unfortunately, though, the car DNQ. In 1981, Mazda went back to La Sarthe with two cars in a works team, however both cars DNF. The following year came the first good result: car #82 (of a two-car factory team) finished in 14th. That same year, FIA announced for 1983 the new Group C Junior class, aimed at privateers and small manufacturers.
Group C Junior cars had to weigh at least 700 kg and carry a maximum of 55 liters of fuel. Above all, tamer specs meant lighter development costs. With that, through their racing division Mazdaspeed, Mazda built their first prototype racecar, the 717C. Weighing just 800 kg, the 717C had an aluminum monocoque chassis. To power the small car, Mazda used the 2-rotor 13B Wankel 1308 cm³ engine, similar to the one in their RX-7 passenger car. Even though the engine only delivered 309 hp, the car had a very respectable drag coefficient of just 0.27cd. That being so, it could be pretty fast on the Mulsanne. Mazdaspeed enrolled two 717C for the 24 Heures du Mans of 1983, in a full factory effort. 717C #60 here is chassis #717C-02, and it came in 12th place overall. That was good enough for first place in the Group C Junior class.
In scale, the car came out pretty nice. Also from Hachette/Spark, however this one is not as finely detailed as my previous two models from the collection. Not bad, far from it, though it doesn’t have the pizazz seen on both of my Dome. Well, the real deal was also kind of plain, so… Nonetheless, marked tires would improve the model a lot. The version from Bizarre for instance, though impossible to find, has marked tires.
Even so, at the end of the day, if you factor in price and availability, it is a nice buy. IF, of course, you have a fancy for these obscure weird oddballs from La Sarthe. And as you can see, I have. In fact, I love the oddballs 😁.