Toyota took an expected victory in the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, but noe was prepared for the controversial ending that saw the No 7 car lose the win an hour from the finish after the team replaced the wrong wheel during an unscheduled pit stop, leaving the car that had led for nearly 12 consecutive hours limping around the circuit with a punctured tyre.
The No 7 car of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez lost the lead of the race to the No 8 of Buemi/Alonso/Nakajima at the start of the final hour after it picked up a puncture, only for a faulty sensor telling the team to change the wrong wheel when it pitted from the lead to gift the sister car the win, with the No 11 SMP Racing BR1 of Petrov/Aleshin/Vandoorne finishing in third. A series of safety car periods throughout the night saw the No 26 G-Drive Racing move clear in LMP2 only to suffer a 20-minute delay in the pits to leave the No 36 Signatech Alpine in the lead, while the GTE Pro lead is with the No 51 Ferrari after its nearest rival, the No 63 Corvette, spun out with three hours to go with the No 91 and 93 Porsches in second and third, while the No 85 Ford is clear in GTE Am.
However, both Aston Martins crashed out of the GTE Pro battle inside 20 minutes of each other, with the GTE Am class No 98 already out, while Corvette Racing saw the No 64 become the first official retirement after a heaving crash early on. Re-live the live updates below.
What time does it start?
The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours starts at 2pm BST (3pm CET) on Saturday 15 June.
When is the finish?
The chequered flag will drop at the end of the first lap after 2pm on Sunday 16 June.
How to watch
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be shown live on Eurosport, along with a number of other sessions during the week.
Twenty-four-hour race coverage will be shown from the moment the flag drops to the chequered flag on Sunday, along with pre- and post-race analysis.
Viewers can watch the race coverage online by subscribing to the Eurosport Player, which comes with the added bonus of no advert breaks for uninterrupted Le Mans coverage. Viewers can buy a monthly pass for £6.99, sign up for a monthly subscription for £4.99 a month or buy a discounted annual pass for £39.99.
There will also be regular 10-minute catch-up shows screened every two hours until 11pm on Saturday, and again from 8am on Sunday morning.
Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours where the World Endurance Championship super season reaches a thrilling climax.
Warm-up has just concluded at Le Mans where once again the No 7 Toyota is top of the timesheets, leading the sister car of the No 8 by a slender margin.
However, the session has not gone withou drama, as the No 1 Rebellion did not set a lap time as they looked to work out some last-minute gremlins, and the No 4 ByKolles Racing LMP1 looked to have a rather serious problem as it struggled for pace and shot Tom Dillman off at the Dunlop Chicane with what looked to be a braking issue.
With the race underway at 2pm BST, we'll begin our full coverage at 12:30pm to what is one of the highlights of the motorsport calendar.
With about an hour and a half to go until the action gets underway, let's start with looking at this year's entry list - a world record one at that.
For the first time, 61 cars will start the Le Mans 24 Hours - one more than last year's field. The original plan saw two cars added to the grid to take the tally to 62 after new temporary garages were built at the start of the pit lane, but a heavy accident in free practice left Tracy Krohn unable to race in the No 99 Dempsey-Proton Porsche. With no time available to find an adequate replacement for the 64-year-old American, the team was forced to withdraw before the end of the second qualifying session, leaving us with 61 challengers for the Le Mans 24 Hours and one fewer 911s in the GTE Am class.
Here's a full run down of the 'Class of 2019'
From the entry list to qualifying, where three sessions - two two-hour night sessions and one two-hour evening session - decided the grid for the 87th Le Mans 24 Hours.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, it was a Toyota front-row lockout as Kamui Kobayashi led the No 7 to pole position ahead of Kazuki Nakajima in the championship-leading No 8. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of qualifying is the fact that both the No 11 SMP Racing LMP1 and No 3 Rebellion were within a second of their fastest time, and if they can keep in touch with the Toyotas through the first sector their significant speed advantage on the Mulsanne straight may just see one of them take the lead on the opening lap.
The grid is all lined up on the start/finish straight with more than an hour to go in what is undoubtedly the busiest grid walk in all of motorsport. All 61 cars are swarmed by VIPs and team members, either desperate to get a glimpse of the gleaming Le Mans chargers or making the finishing touches to the cars.
In 25 hours time, they hope to see the very same cars crossing the line covered in dirt, splattered bugs, rubbers marks and wearing the war wounds of a gruelling 24 Hours' hard racing.
The big news yesterday saw the ACO, organisers of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship, finally clarify what the future of the race looks like. As previously announced, the new hypercar prototype will become the new lead class in place of LMP1 from 2020/21, an no sooner were the rules clarified than the first major manufacturer announced its entry in the form of Aston Martin and the beautiful Valkyrie project.
No sooner had Aston Martin confirmed their entry - along with one from ByKolles Racing - than a true LMP1 heavyweight committed their future to the WEC in the form of pole-sitters Toyota.
There had been plenty of uncertainty over whether Toyota would continue in the sport, but the indication of some genuine competition coming their way convinced the Japanese manufacturer's hierarchy to crack on with the GR Super Sport programme that will see them launch their hypercar prototype from 2020/21 - a year earlier than Aston Martin and ByKolles.
However, it's hoped that further teams will commit in the form of Ferrari, McLaren and various other marques.
Toyota have confirmed that Mike Conway will lead away the No 7 pole-sitting car with the opening stint, with Sebastien Buemi taking control of the No 8, meaning the likes of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima, Jose Maria Lopez and qualifying pace-setter Kamui Kobayashi will be kept in reserve for later in the race.
Rebellion will start the No 3 car in the hands of Gus Menezes - no relation, sadly - who set that cars fastest time in qualifying, while the third-placed SMP Racing LMP1 will have Stephane Sarrazin behind the wheel.
Here's a quick run-down of who will be starting the race:
1. No 7 Toyota - Mike Conway
2. No 8 Toyota - Sebastien Buemi
3. No 11 SMP Racing - Stephane Sarrazin
4. No 3 Rebellion - Gustavo Menezes
5. No 11 SMP Racing - Vitaly Petrov
6. No 1 Rebellion - Bruno Senna
7. No 10 DragonSpeed - Ben Hanley
8. No 4 ByKolles Racing - Tom Dillman
9. No 28 TDS Racing - Matthieu Vaxiviere
10. No 31 Dragonspeed - Anthony Davidson
11. No 36 Signatech Alpine - Nicolas Lapierre
12. No 48 IDEC Sport - Paul Loup Chatin
13. No 26 G Drive Racing - Jean-Eric Vergne
14. No 22 United Autosports - Filipe Albuquerque
15. No 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing - Ho-Pin Tung
16. No 29 Racing Team Nederland - Giedo van der Garde
17. No 32 United Autosports - Alex Brundle
18. No 20 High Class Racing - Anders Fjordbach
19. No 23 Panis Barthez Competition - Will Stevens
20. No 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing - Ricky Taylor
21. No 30 Duqueine Engineering - Nicolas Jamin
22. No 39 Graff - Jonathan Hirschi
23. No 25 Algarve Pro Racing - Andre Pizzitola
24. No 43 RLR M SPort - Norman Nato
25. No 47 Cetilar Villorba Corse - Giorgio Sernagiotto
26. No 34 Inter Europol Competition - Jakub Smiechowski
27. No 49 ARC Bratislava-Keneko Racing - Miro Konopka
28. No 50 Labre Competition - Nicolas Boulle
29. No 95 Aston Martin Racing - Nicki Thiim
30. No 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Harry Tincknell
31. No 63 Corvette Racing Antonio Garcia
32. No 93 Porsche GT Team Nick Tandy
33. No 82 BMW Team MTEK Antonio Felix da Costa
34. No 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA - TBC
35. No 92 Porsche GT Team Kevin Estre
36. No 71 AF Corse - Davide Rigon
37. No 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Olivier Pla
38. No 69 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA - Richard Westbrook
39. No 64 Corvette Racing - Oliver Gavin
40. No 51 AF Corse - Alessandro Pier Guidi
41. No 91 Porsche GT Team - Gianmaria Bruni
42. No 97 Aston Martin Racing - Maxime Martin
43. No 94 Porsche GT Team - Mathieu Jaminet
44. No 81 BMW Team MTEK - Martin Tomczyk
45. No 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing - Matteo Cairoli
46. No 89 Risi Competizione - Oliver Jarvis (GTE Pro)
47. No 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing - Matt Campbell
48. No 86 Gulf Racing - Benjamin Barker
49. No 84 JMW Motorsport - Jeffrey Segal
50. No 78 Proton Competition - Vincent Abril
51. No 56 Team Project 1 - Jorg Bergmeister
52. No 54 Spirit of Race - Giancarlo Fisichella
53. No 57 Car Guy Racing - Kei Cozzolino
54. No 85 Keating Motosports - Jeroen Bleekemolen
55. No 60 Kessel Racing - Andrea Piccini
56. No 98 Aston Martin Racing - Pedro Lamy
57. No 90 TF Sport - Charlie Eastwood
58. No 62 Weathertech Racing - Toni Vilander
59. No 70 MR Racing - Motoaki Ishikawa
60. No 83 Kessel Racing - Rahel Frey
61. No 61 Clearwater Racing - Luis Perez Companc
The enormous Le Mans 24 Hours trophy has been delivered to the finish line by Toyota's test driver Alexander Wurz, meaning it's time for the French national anthem, as is tradition.
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