Porsche took a dramatic victory in the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the lead changing just three minutes from the end when the leading Toyota suffered a loss of power.
The #2 Porsche Team 919, driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, crossed the line after 24 hours to take back-to-back victories for Porsche, having been locked in a race long battle with the Toyota’s.
However in the closing hours of the race, the #5 Toyota Gazoo TS050 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kabuki Nakajima, emerged as the lead car with a healthy lead, particularly as the #2 Porsche was forced to make a late stop.
But with five minutes remaining, the unthinkable happened as Nakajima reported a loss of power for the lead car, before eventually coming to a halt on the start/finish straight, handing the victory to Porsche – its 18th overall win.
The #5 Toyota managed to get going again before stopping a little further down the road. Therefore failing to be classified and handing second to the sister car driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin.
Audi suffered a nightmare of a race, but secured a podium finish as the #8 R18 finished third followed by the #7 sister car in fourth.
The former suffered a suspension failure which forced a 40-minute stoppage as it was replaced in the 21st hour of the race.
The second Porsche, driven by defending champions Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley spent a long time in the garage for a coolant leak, and was unable to regain the lost time on track.
Victory in the LMP2 class went to the #36 Signatech Alpine 460 driven by Nicolas Lapierre and Le Mans rookies Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi.
The all-French team took the lead during the night when the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca crashed out, whilst the #26 G-Drive Oreca was second, more than two minutes adrift. The #37 BR01 of Vitaly Petrov, Viktor Shaitar and Kirill Ladygin was third.
Ford's comeback to Le Mans saw it take victory with the #68 Chip Ganassi Team USA entry of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais, with the sister #69 entry of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon taking third.
The Ford GTs were split by the #82 Ferrari car of Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Matteo Malucelli.
The first retirement came after just five hours when the LM GTE Am #89 Proton Competition Porsche 911 hit oil put down by the #91 Porsche Motorsport 911, causing Marc Miller to lose control and spin off into the wall.
The #89 had a tough race ahead as only Miller and Cooper MacNeil qualified for the race, meaning each would have to driver 12 hours apiece after Leh Keen failed to complete the mandatory five night time practice laps.
The #91 would also eventually retire as a result of the coolant leak, which was caused by a rock which punctured the radiator.
The second retirement came in the LMP2 field as the #47 KMCG Oreca 05 suffered an electrical issue.
Porsche Motorsport saw a second retirement hours later when the #92 sister car suffered a front-right suspension failure, leaving no factory Porsche’s remaining in the race.
As the second half of the race approached, it was Ferrari’s turn to suffer. The LM GTE Pro #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE exited the race with an overheating engine and was shortly followed by the #71 Corse Ferrari 488 GTE when a wheel rim failed with Davide Rigon behind the wheel.
The #4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 had a fiery exit at 7am which saw the car retire on the sport – the first LMP1 car to retire.
With the #12 Rebellion Racing entry joining ByKolles on the sidelines, it left just one privateer LMP1 car in the race.
The #64 Corvette Racing C7.R (LM GTE Pro) retired when it hit the tyre wall at speed when Tommy Milner lost control heading into Turn 1. Milner escaped unharmed.
Driver Nelson Panciatici, driving the #35 Baxi DC Alpine A460 (LMP2) also hit the barrier, but protested when the marshals went to remove his car from the circuit, believing he could rejoin. The damage was however race ending.
Whilst fighting for the LMP2 lead, Pierre Thiriet went off in the #46 Thiriet Racing Oreca 05, ending his race.
With the race heading into the final hours, the drama didn’t stop as an unusual incident saw the #44 Manor Oreca retire from the LMP2-class. A bodywork failure caused the nose to snap, which became stuck under the front wheels sending the car straight into the barriers.