Ferrari took their second straight ’24 Hours of Le Mans’ race win last weekend, their current success ending a sequence of five wins for Toyota. Yet the Japanese manufacturers have rarely topped the podium in Le Mans and had to wait until 1991 for their first triumph.

It was Mazda who had that honour, completing 362 laps to the 360 of their nearest challengers. Autosport noted that “Mazda surprised us all by storming to a fabulous victory…the Mercedes C11s dominated the event until they broke and the Jaguars, amazingly, were simply too slow…”

Driving the Mazda on its final stint very nearly broke Johnny Herbert who, “keeled over in his father’s arms on climbing out of the car. He was carted off for medical attention, and missed the loud and very emotional rostrum celebration. The Japanese girls in the Mazda entourage could not control their tears, and looking at his name on top of the results sheet for this great race, [Bernard] Gachot could only shake his head and repeat, ‘I just don’t believe it’…”

You can find the comprehensive Autosport report on Le Mans 1991 here.

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