Ferrari has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 58 years as the #51 of Allessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi lasted the toughest of endurance races to finish ahead of the #8 Toyota.
The #34 Inter Europol Competition prototype took victory in the LMP2 class, while the #33 Corvette won the GTE-Am class.
Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller finished 39th overall in their Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR.
Here is how the action unfolded over the 24 hours…
With the #50 Ferrari AF Corse on pole position and its sister entry #51 car alongside it, the class of 2023 raced down to the first corner as the clock started ticking down to mark the start of the centenary race at Le Mans.
The two Ferraris made it through the first corner, while there was contact in the battle for third place between the #8 Toyota and the #75 Porsche. Both cars managed to avoid any lasting damage, while a Peugoet and a Cadillac went off at the first turn.
With the 24 hours being the ultimate test of endurance, some cars were already having issues as the #43 DKR Engineering Prototype started from the back of the field after failing to fire when Grand Marshall, basketball star, LeBron James gave the command.
The #708 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 007 had to start from the pitlane following a minor repair on its transmission.
Jack Aitken’s #311 Action Express Racing Cadillac was the first real casualty of the demanding circuit, hitting the outside wall on the exit of the first Mulsanne chicane. There was a lot of bodywork damage and the front-left suspension corner was destroyed. However, Aitken managed to nurse it back to the pitlane for repairs.
The safety car was deployed on the opening lap to repair the barriers after Aitken’s crash. The #8 Toyota was able to pass both the #50 and #51 Ferrari and take the lead of the race, with the #7 Toyota moving up to third.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the #8 Toyota despite being out front with Sebastian Buemi reporting a braking assistance issue, but still able to remain on track in the lead of the race which was still behind the safety car.
With 40 minutes of the race gone, the green flag was waved with all cars apart from the #311 Cadillac still in the garage getting repaired.
The #50 Ferrari attempted a move for first place going into the second Muslanne chicance, however, it would take another attempt at the hairpin to give the Ferrari the lead back of the race.
Just before the race reached the three-hour mark, absolute carnage was about to take place. The rain started to fall on one part of the circuit, which got incredibly heavy and with teams not considering a switch to full-wet tyres at this point, it was an ice rink through this section.
A number of crashes would take place, with the Ferrari’s opting to switch back to slick tyres for the safety car restart. This would prove to be the wrong option and after two lengthy pit stops, the #94 Peugoet would be leading the race.
After a very lengthy safety car procedure, racing would get back underway with some of the hypercars diving into the pitlane to switch to slick tyres. The #94 Peugeot would be in the lead, with the #75 Penske second and the #37 Jota Porsche in third.
Despite taking the lead in the race for a short time became heavily damaged when Yifei Ye went off in the Porsche curves. Both the engine cover and the rear wing structure were damaged along with the front bodywork. A lot of repairs would be needed for the car that was in the overall lead of the race.
Racing got back underway with the #51 Ferrari leading the #50 Ferrari, with the two Porsche Penske Hypercars behind.
As the race entered into its sixth hour, the two Ferraris came into the pits and re-joined in fifth and sixth place. The #75 Porsche was leading the race, followed by the #8 Toyota.
With more LMP2 cars beached in the gravel over the hour, darkness would begin to fall and at the six-hour fourty-seven minute mark, the #75 Penske Porsche stopped on track and went a lap down as it attempted to crawl back to the pits before retiring on its journey home.
Then as the race was completing it’s eighth hour, the #51 Ferrari that was leading the race found itself beached in the gravel after spinning under breaking, getting distracted by the spinning GTE-Am car ahead.
After a fairly swift recovery, the #51 Ferrari avoided dropping a lap but had fallen to fifth overall. The #94 Peugeot was leading the race ahead of the #7 Toyota.
Then just a minute later, the #7 car was moving slowly with a smouldering #66 Ferrari GTE-Am parked in the middle of the track. Replays would highlight the carnage that unfolded, with the #66 Ferrari being hit by an LMP2 car that had made contact with the #7 Toyota.
Then after an electrical error light was flashing, Kamui Kobayashi stepped out of his car, the first time the Toyota Gazoo Racing team had a retirement since 2017.
As the night continued, there was concern for the #5 Porsche as it had to go back into the garage with a water leak, with the #63 Prema LMP2 badly damaged following its collision with a wall, before bouncing into another and out of the race.
Then there was a moment of drama for the Ferrari team as the #50 Hyerpcar was forced into the garage with a leak, while the #5 Porsche was able to rejoin the race.
After having a strong showing in the race up to the 12th hour, the #94 Peugeot found itself making contact with the tire barriers as the first Mulsanne chicane, damaging its bodywork and having to come into the pits.
It was able to rejoin the race eight laps down, with its battle now with the #50 Ferrari that was just two laps ahead after it was forced behind the wall earlier.
As the race entered hour 13 and 22 minutes, it was the #8 Toyota that was leading the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the #51 Ferrari in second place and not long afterwards, the #777 Aston Martin GTE-Am was parked at the side of the track.
Hour 15 was when the sun began to rise and only a minute into it there was a big crash for the #88 Proton Porsche, bringing out a slow zone and ending the race for the car.
At the time of the slow zone, it was the #8 Toyota leading the Hypercar class, the #41 Team WRT leading LMP2 and the #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari leading the GTE-Am class.
Then with only ten minutes remaining in the hour, the #34 Inter Europol car would get past the #41 Team WRT for the lead of the LMP2 class. This would be a battle that would continue for some time, with the lead of the race swapping on multiple occasions.
Another slow zone would occur after the #708 Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus Hypercar spun at Indianapolis, with it running in sixth before crashing.
At the 17 hours and 33 minutes mark, the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Camaro NASCAR was finally ahead of the entire GTE-Am field, while the #94 Peugeot was in the garage, the first time for either of the team’s cars.
Ex-Formula One and Formula E driver, Antonio Giovinazzi, was behind the wheel of the #51 Ferrari as the race was heading towards its 19th hour and had a lead of over a minute.
However, around 40 minutes later that lead was lost with the car stopped in the pit lane after an issue re-firing the car. It would be six seconds behind the #8 Toyota when it rejoined, with the issue possibly occurring at every remaining pit stop.
It didn’t take long for Allessandro Pier Guidi to take the #51 Ferrari back to the front, with Sebastian Buemi battling the LMP2 traffic in his #8 Toyota.
Michael Fassbender, X-Men and one-time Holby City actor had a solid race in his #911 GTE-Am Porsche, but crashed ironically at the Porsche curves but managed to get the car back to the pitlane.
The NASCAR survived 20 hours without any major issues, better than what many people expected. However, they did start to have a few issues and had to take the car into the garage a few times before returning in 39th place overall.
The #8 Toyota was continuing to chase the leading #51 Ferrari but made contact with the barrier and potentially costing them a chance of victory. It took quite some time for the car to return to the track and had to head to the pits before returning, still in second place and more than three minutes ahead of the #2 Cadillac behind.
With the #8 Toyota needing repairs, when the race entered into the final hour it was the #51 Ferrari that had a three-minute lead and was on course to take victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After having difficulties at the start of the race, the #33 GTE-Am Corvette had a big lead and looked likely to take the class victory heading towards the end of the race.
The #51 pulled into the pits for a routine stop with just over 20 minutes remaining and the issue from earlier happened once again as it was unable to leave the pits straight away. After a few attempts at getting the car moving, it exited to the pitlane, still with over a minute lead.