But the race was overshadowed by a crash in the early stages which claimed the life of Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen.
Simonsen’s fellow Dane Tom Kristenson was part of the driving trio on the number two Audi R18 e-tron quattro, increasing his record of Le Mans triumphs to nine. Allan McNish and Loic Duval shared the winning car.
Audi had the legs of the pursuing Toyotas for much of the race. But early setbacks for cars one and three left number two on its own in the lead.
The number eight Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin led the chase, seldom much more than a lap behind the lead car. Buemi temporarily unlapped himself from the winner in the closing stages as the last in a series of showers hit the race.
The second Toyota came in fourth having spent half an hour in the pits on Sunday morning after hitting the barriers. The fifth-place Audi also had a lengthy spell in the pits on Saturday due to a failed crankshaft sensor.
The LMP2 and GTE Pro classes saw one-two finishes for OAK Racing and Porsche respectively. Porsche also won the amateur category.
Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman claimed victroy in LMP2, completing a lap more than team mates Olivier Pla, Alex Brundle and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Following the tragic loss of Simonsen, Aston Martin remained in close contention for Pro honours. With an hour to go there was little over a second between Porsche and Aston Martin in the Pro category. But a series of pit stops by Stefan Mucke in the rain-hit closing stages saw them fall out of contention.
That left two Porsche 911s at the head of the field, with victory taken by Richard Lietz, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas. Jean-Karl Vernay, Raymond Narac and Christophe Bourret won the amateur category.
But after the events of Saturday the sense of loss hung heavily over the race. A moment’s reflection and round of applause for Simonsen’s memory was held before the podium ceremony began. Kristensen dedicated his victory to the man he called “a great fellow Dane”.
Image © Audi