Audi produced a dominant display at the 80th Le Mans 24 hour race as they locked out the podium places.
But Audi made their job as difficult as possible during the latter stages.
Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer repeated their success of last year in the number one e-tron Quattro hybrid car and won by over a lap from the sister car driven by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.
The R18 Ultra of Marci Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller finished on the final step of the podium while the second R18 Ultra was fifth, behind the number 12 Lola-Toyota.
After the number one car had led for much of the opening half of the race the lead switched several times between the two e-tron Quattros through the night meaning either car was still in with a chance of claiming the victory.
The team of McNish, Kristensen and Capello had started fourth but were challenging for the lead with the sister e-tron Quattro despite an unscheduled pit-stop in the opening few hours.
Once the sun rose after a night of cat-and-mouse both leading cars were involved in minor incidents.
With four hours to go Capello pitted and switched with McNish who exited the pits and fed back onto the track less than three seconds behind Treluyer in the leading e-tron Quattro.
When Treluyer made a scheduled stop McNish took over control of the race with the problems continuing for the number one car as it spun when entering the pit lane.
McNish had targeted his third Le Mans victory this weekend, his first since 2008, but as he looked to build a lead he ended up in the barriers at the Porsche curves with less than three hours remaining.
He fell a lap behind the sister e-tron Quattro and the safety car was required to clear the debris and fix the shunted barrier.
Audi's other entry, the R18 Ultra, performed well but was also prone to accidents.
While the number four car of Bonanomi, Jarvis and Rockenfeller was largely untroubled as it finished a distant third it was a different story for the sister Ultra.
Early in the race, while being driven by Romain Dumas, the car understeered off the circuit before making contact with the barrier with the Frenchman furiously stripping off broken pieces of bodywork so he could limp back to the pits and get the car back into the race.
Then in the latter stages, just prior to McNish's accident, Dumas' co-driver Marc Gene had an almost identical crash in the same area of the track.
Despite Audi's dramas they were largely untroubled at the head of the field after their main threat, that of the Toyota Racing TS030 hybrid, lost both of their cars before the halfway stage.
Anthony Davidson was involved in a massive accident during the opening quarter of the race which left the British driver with a broken back.
The 33-year-old took over from Sebastien Buemi after decent stints from the Swiss driver and Stephane Sarrazin had left the team fighting for the lead.
But early into his stint the Briton was clipped by the LMPGTE Ferrari driven by Italy's Piergiuseppe Perazzini and crashed heavily into the barrier after a spectacular mid-air flip.
Perazzini walked away from the accident but Davidson was treated by medical staff at the scene and after being taken to the local hospital it was later confirmed he had broken two vertebrae.
Directly after the safety car period that followed Davidson's crash Toyota's number seven car, driven at the time by Kazuki Nakajima, collided with Nissan's concept Delta-Wing entry and limped through another few hours before retiring.
The Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota car of Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost kept its' nose clean throughout the race and came home in a well-deserved fourth place, with the sister car finishing 11th.
British duo Ryan Dalziel and Tom Kimber-Smith, along with Venezuela's Vincente Potolicchio, won the LMP2 class race in Starworks Motorsport's Honda.
Martin Brundle, who won the overall race in 1990, was racing at Le Mans for the first time in 11 years with his son Alex and Spaniard Lucas Ordonez in LMP2 and finished a respectable eighth in class.
The AF Corse Ferrari, driven by ex-Formula one driver Giancarlo Fisichella with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, won the LMGTE class by a considerable margin.