They came agonisingly close to winning past year but a last lap power failure on Kazuki Nakajima's leading vehicle handed the victory to Porsche.
Out of the total five LMP1 cars on the grid fielded by Toyota and Porsche, three cars retired early in the race with one each from either teams was still in contention. "Well done, everybody", said Bernhard over the radio.
Hartley said it was something he had "dreamt about" for a long time. "It was an incredible team effort".
"It's a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life". However, its return to action proved invaluable after the retirement of its sister auto, with the trio of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley chasing down some impressive LMP2 cars to earn the overall win. Bamber also won in 2015 alongside F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Their joy could have been that of the number one Porsche drivers - Neel Jani of Switzerland, Britain's Nick Tandy and Germany's Andre Lotterer - who were 13 laps clear when the auto halted with four hours to go. Taking the final step on the podium was the LMP2 vehicle of Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche.
Bernhard also won the race in 2010 when driving for the dominant Audi team. The speed difference looked scary but steadily the Porsche bridged the gap with finishing driver Bernhard eventually scooting into the lead 67 minutes from the 3pm finish and going on to win by a lap.
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"It was absolutely insane". "I was driving at the time when I heard it go "bang" and I thought it was our race done", Bamber, the 2015 victor, told Eurosport. The guys turned it around.
Jackie Chan DC become the first LMP2 vehicle to podium at Le Mans. "You don't choose to win Le Mans, Le Mans chooses you".
It was delight sandwiched between devastation for Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with its top-flight LMP1 team clawing its way out of the drama-filled race to claim victory.
A year after American actor Brad Pitt got the race underway, Formula One chairman Chase Carey was the official starter for the 85th edition. Elliott was second in both MI races past year, and again this time.
Former victor Tandy took over at the front and moved three laps clear of France's Nicolas Lapierre in the number nine Toyota. Kamui Kobayashi set an all-time lap record time to win the overall pole on Thursday afternoon.
But deep into the night, Toyota's woes began with Kobayashi cruising in the lead.