Porsche has claimed victory in the Le Mans 24-Hour classic for 2016, after snatching the lead from Toyota with just four minutes of racing remaining.
Falling just short of a Hollywood script, Toyota was poised to win the race until the #5 TS050 ground to a halt with engine failure before it could attempt the final lap.
That left the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid in front after being 90 seconds behind, and all driver Neel Jani had to do was finish to secure victory for himself, along with teammates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas.
In further heartache for Toyota fans, the #5 car eventually limped across the line to greet the chequered flag, only to be disqualified moments later for failing to complete the last lap within the six-minute time limit.
"We've dreamed about winning this race," Team Manager for Toyota’s French Oreca team, Hugues de Chaunac said.
"We also had a nightmare, breaking down an hour from the finish. But not in the last lap. It's completely cruel. It hasn't sunk in yet. We were right there. This race is so hard to win. Even Porsche's boss came to see us and admitted he didn't deserve this victory."
For Porsche, the 84th running of the Le Mans 24-Hour marks its 18th victory, while Toyota has now attempted to win the race no less than 44 times - with ‘only’ five second places to show for its efforts.
Although it will barely be remembered, one of those second-place finishes came at this year’s event, with the #6 Toyota TS050 claiming second behind the winning #2 Porsche.
Toyota would have been only the second Japanese team in history to win the Le Mans 24-Hour, following Mazda’s 1991 victory which still stands as the only win to be achieved by a car ‘without pistons’ (rotary-powered).
Australia’s Mark Webber, joined by Kiwi Brendon Hartley and German Timo Bernhard, eventually finished 13th after consistent reliability issues with the #1 Porsche 919.
Le Mans organisers praised the 263,500 spectators for braving the weather conditions, as the race started under heavy rain behind the safety car.
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