Porsche took their record 17th victory at the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours in just their second year since returning to the top prototype class after Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Formula One driver Nico Hulkenberg clinched the most gruelling endurance race of them all.
Regular Force India driver Hulkenberg was allowed to sign up with the Porsche LMP1 team at the start of the year and fully justified his decision by taking the chequered flag in the No 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid after 395 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
They finished a lap ahead of Porsche team-mates Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Wernhard, who had led up until late Saturday night when Webber had to serve a penalty after Hartley overtook under yellow flags.
Having won Le Mans for the past five years, Audi had to make do with third as the No 7 R18 e-tron quattro of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler - last year's victors - came home two laps down on the eventual winners.
The LMP2 battle went right down to the wire with the top three all finishing on the same lap, but it was the No 47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan of British pair Matthew Howson and Richard Bradley along with France's Nicolas Lapierre who took victory by just over 48 seconds ahead of the No 38 Jota Sport Gibson-Nissan of Oliver Turvey, Simon Dolan and Mitch Evans.
Despite seeing their No 63 C7R crash out in qualifying in the hands of Jan Magnussen, Corvette celebrated a famous GTE-Pro victory as the lone No 64 works car of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor saw off the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Briton James Calado, Italian Davide Rigon and Monaco's Olivier Beretta by a dominant five laps.
Ferrari did triumph in the GTE-Am class as the No 72 SMP Racing 458 of Voctor Shaytar, Anrea Bertolini and Aleksei Basov finished one lap ahead of the No 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Long, Marco Seefried and actor Patrick Dempsey.
Despite an early charge by the Audis that saw them pass the second and third placed Porsches, it was the No 17 that remained out in front for most of Saturday. However, there was plenty of drama behind, as a first safety car was required when the No 92 GTE-Pro Porsche of Patrick Pilet dumped a load of oil on the entry to the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight.
The 911 RSR spun, with the oil patch causing two other cars to spin off and the No 13 Rebellion of Alex Imperatori sustaining significant damage to the front of the car, though he would limp back to the pits and continue.
There was a bigger shunt shortly after though, as a yellow flag zone on the approach to Indianapolis required cars to slow down to 80kmp. With the different classes producing varied slowing down speeds, the No 8 Audi of Loic Duval arrived at a rate of knots with nowhere to go, and was forced to take evasive action that sent him spinning into the barrier and smashing both the front and rear of the R18.
Miraculously, Duval got the car back to the garage and it re-emerged just four minutes later, although the safety cars were required for 45 minutes due to barrier repairs.
After Webber served his penalty, the No 19 hit the front and led through the night, but the was another scare when the safety cars were needed again after No 96 Aston Martin of Roald Grothe crashed heavily on the exit of the Porsche Curves having just been overtaken by the leading No 19 Porsche.
55-year-old Goethe was conscious after the accident, and was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
It proved to be a frustrating 24 hours for Aston Martin, who were challenging at the front of the GTE Pro and Am classes throughout the race. However, the No 97 of Rob Bell, Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke retired early when running in second due to a mechanical failure, and the No 99 was soon in the garage when the pole-sitting car of Richie Stanaway, Fernando Rees and Alex MacDowall had contact damage.
For much of the race it looked like the No 98 of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda would clinch the GTE-Am class, only for Dalla Lana to go off at Mulsanne Corner and end their challenge.Reuse content