Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer led home an Audi 1-2-3 victory at the Spa round of the World Endurance Championship.
The winning trio and the reigning world champions had to fight back from two early setbacks, but they had the pace to overcome both two sets of teammates and the challenge from Toyota to claim victory by over a minute ahead of Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which had won pole in the hands of Lotterer and Fassler, lost time at the start when Lotterer went wide at the first corner and lost out to both his sister cars and the latest Toyota TS030 Hybrid driven by Nicolas Lapierre.
Lotterer fought back into the lead before the end of the opening stint only to lose time in the second hour when he sustained a puncture during the only safety car period of the race. That left Fassler more than a minute down on Kristensen in the No. 2 Audi, but the eventual winners were able to fight back into contention as the six-hour race passed the halfway mark.
A series of fastest race laps from Lotterer after the German climbed back aboard the car for the final stints put the result beyond doubt. Lotterer, who was brought up in Belgium near Spa, said: "It was a good thing that our problems happened in the early stages. We knew the car was fast and I knew I could rely on my teammates. I think this was one of our greatest victories. We all enjoyed it so much."
The No. 2 Audi was rarely on the pace of the winning car. Its drivers thought they struggled in comparison to their teammates in the second stint on a set of Michelin tires.
The new longtail R18 shared by Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis rounded out Audi's clean sweep of the podium a further 50 seconds down.
TOUGH RACE FOR TOYOTA
Toyota's Le Mans car, which was shared by Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima and Alex Wurz (who did not get to drive), was able to run with the Audis for the first three stints. The car subsequently lost the use of its energy-retrieval system, which aids braking, and as a result its brakes overheated, resulting in its retirement in the fourth hour.
The 2012 Toyota did not have the same pace and finished fourth, a lap down on the Audis, in the hands of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.
The Rebellion Racing team again led the LMP1 privateer order, Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost taking fifth place.
The AF Corse-run Pecom squad took LMP2 honors despite a late-race scare. Nicolas Minassian, Luiz Perez Companc and Pierre Kaffer were on top for most of the race, only to lose the majority of their advantage in the final 45 minutes with a puncture.
Ferrari beat Aston Martin in the GTE Pro class, AF Corse duo Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella coming out on top of an intense battle with the Aston Vantage GTE shared by Rob Bell, Bruno Senna and Frederic Makowiecki.
Results - 168 laps:
Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. P1 Lotterer/Treluyer/Fassler Audi 6h00m55.971s
2. P1 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi + 1m05.815s
3. P1 Di Grassi/Gene/Jarvis Audi + 1m54.992s
4. P1 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota + 1 lap
5. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 3 laps
6. P1 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng Rebellion Lola-Toyota + 3 laps
7. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD + 7 laps
8. P2 Perez Companc/Minassian/Kaffer Pecom ORECA-Nissan + 11 laps
9. P2 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Morgan-Nissan + 11 laps
10. P2 Dolan/Turvey/Luhr Jota Zytek-Nissan + 11 laps
11. P2 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Morgan-Nissan + 12 laps
12. P2 Rusinov/Martin/Conway Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan + 16 laps
13. P2 Nicolet/Merlin OAK Morgan-Nissan + 16 laps
14. P2 Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz Lotus + 16 laps
15. GTE P Bruni/Fisichella AF Ferrari + 19 laps
16. GTE P Senna/Makowiecki/Bell Aston Martin + 19 laps
17. GTE P Kobayashi/Vilander AF Ferrari + 19 laps
18. GTE P Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin + 20 laps
19. GTE P Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Manthey Porsche + 20 laps
20. GTE P Dalla Lana/Lamy/Stanaway Aston Martin + 21 laps
21. GTE A Potolicchio/Aguas/Malucelli 8Star Ferrari + 21 laps
22. GTE A Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen Aston Martin + 22 laps
23. GTE A Bornhauser/Canal/Rees Larbre Corvette + 23 laps
24. P2 Weeda/Liuzzi/Rossiter Lotus + 24 laps
25. GTE A Goethe/Hall/Campbell-Walter Aston Martin + 24 laps
26. GTE A Ried/Roda/Ruberti Proton Porsche + 25 laps
27. GTE A Narac/Vernay Imsa Porsche + 25 laps
28. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani Krohn Ferrari + 26 laps
29. P2 Fatien/Giroix/Ihara Gulf Lola-Nissan + 28 laps
30. GTE A Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Ferrari + 30 laps
31. GTE A Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Ferrari + 43 laps
GTE P Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard Manthey Porsche 123 laps
P1 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota 99 laps
P2 Graves/Pizzonia/Walker Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 25 laps