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There is a small glimmer of hope, though, as history has shown that Mazda is actually interested in racing. Far from being the first mid-engined rotary Le Mans car Mazda has conceived, the Furai is the latest in a long line that stretches back to the early 1980s and the 717C prototype with its '138 production-based rotary engine. The 717C wasn't particularly successful and gave way to a series of rotary models (727C,737C, 757,7678 for all the Mazda geeks out there) until the groundbreaking quad-rotor 7B7B of 1991 , which io this day remains the only Japanese car ever to win the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour race. Since that time Mazda hasn't had a serious crack at any major international motorsport titles, a fact that could change given the race-ready status of the Furai and the desire of its designer to see the car in action, despite the red light from lVlazda. Von Holzhausen has said the design was influenced by the possibility of future rule changes in the ALMS. "We created a new closed cockpit which would be more appropriate for a future production model," were his exact words. "Production model" is a phrase we would love to hear next to the word "Furai" but that looks unlikely to happen any time soon as, Franz Von Holzhausen has moved to Tesla lVotors - maker of the Lotus Elise-bodied electric Roadster - to head its design department. However, Von Holzhausen's former boss at Mazda, Laurens van den Acker, is said to be just as passionate about making the Furai a production reality. Given that he was the one who came up with the Nagare idea in the first place, van den Acker would seem to have the clout to make it happen. Never before has there been a concept car so capable of backing up its looks with pure ability, but it seems production of the Furai is as unlikely as that lap dance from Angelina Jolie. Let's hope that enthusiasts like van den Acker keep barracking for it inside Mazda. ffi

"Beneath the conceptual bodguork the Furai is a fullg functioning race car, complete uith race-spec driuetrain, brakes and suspension"

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