The large LMP2 field proved far more competitive than the top class, with the #22 United Autosports Oreca of Paul di Resta, Fillipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson eventually taking honours after a long battle with their team-mates.
The other United car, driven by Alex Brundle, Job van Uitert and Will Owen, had been leading the class on Sunday morning, but an oil leak then dropped it well down the order.
That put the #22 United car in the lead, but there was late tension when Hanson was forced to make a late fuel stop, allowing the second-place Jota Sport Oreca of Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez to close right in – before it has to make a late fuel stop of its own with just two laps to go.
GTE Pro and Am: Aston Martin scores double glory
The GTE Pro class might have been down on entries this year but the competition was typically fierce, with the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin and Harry Tincknell taking victory after a race-long fight with the AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guide and Daniel Serra.
The Aston’s victory margin was just 1min 40secs, with the result finally showcasing the potential of the Vantage GTE after tyre issues and performance balancing hampered it in previous years.
“I won’t lie, that was emotional,” said Lynn. “I had a few tears on the last lap. So much hard work and sweat has gone into it.”
The #95 Vantage GTE of Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and Richard Westbrook finished third, after losing time due to a number of small issues. But the result still secured valuable World Endurance Championship points for the ‘Dane Train’ duo of Sorensen and Thiim.
The TF Sport Aston Martin of Jonathan Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc took a comfortable victory in the GTE Am division to cap a fine showing for the British manufacturer, moving into the class leads in the WEC points.