MAZDA RX-7 GTU: THE ROTARY RISES
In 1979 Mazda deployed the first generation of its RX-7 in the IMSA GT Championship.
It was 1978 when the RX-7 the most famous sports car produced by Mazda was produced for the first time. Equipped with the renowned Wankel rotary engine, the car was immediately used for sporting purposes.
To adequately promote it in the North American market, the management of the Japanese company developed a competition variant to enter in the IMSA GT Championship (the GTU category) to replace the previous RX-3.
The previous Mazda RX-3 ( Photo Credits : www.speedhunters.com )
Produced in collaboration with the Racing Beat team, the RX-7 had been enhanced by the integration of a new aerodynamic body kit, of a safety roll-bar to stiffen the chassis, of stiffened sports suspension and of new competition wheels.
Side section ( Photo Credits : .www.wheelsage.org )
The engine consisted of a double-rotor Wankel 1.1 managed by a five-speed manual gearbox and coupled to rear-wheel drive.
Rear section ( Photo Credits : www.japanesenostalgiccar.com )
It could deliver the power of 260 hp with 217 Nm of torque, and that allowed the car to reach a top speed of 265 km / h with acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 5.8 seconds.
The interior ( Photo Credits : www.japanesenostalgiccar.com )
As pilots were hired the former motorcycle rider Yoshimi Katayama, together with the veteran Yojiro Terada. They both managed to win the class victory in the opening race of the 1979 season, the 24 hours of Daytona.
The RX-7 GTU during the Riverside 6 Hours ( Photo credits : www.pinterest.com )
Although that was the only victory of the championship, the numerous points induced the Mazda to enrol the car also in the 1980 season, changing however the pilots.
Memorial badge of Racing Beat Team ( Photo Credits : www.racingbeat.com )
Entrusted this time to the Americans Walt Bohren and Jeff Kline, the RX-7 GTU gave full proof of its speed qualities by winning 7 races out of 14 and guaranteeing to the Japanese team the conquest of the class title and the drivers' title for Bohren.
Thanks to Valentina Zanola for the cooperation