After two years of frustration and unfulfilled promise, Peugeot finally grasped victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours at the third attempt with its 908 diesel.
The French manufacturer has taken pole position in each of the last three years, and in 2008 conspired to lose the race despite enjoying a significant pace advantage over its rival Audi R10.
The Peugeot Sport team had to raise its game considerably this time to see off the challenge of Audi's new R15, which was able to lap much closer to the speed of the 908 than its predecessor. Whereas last year Peugeot was plagued by reliability woes and caught out by heavy rain during the night, this year it enjoyed a relatively smooth run for its lead car, while the majority of the dramas struck the Audi team.
It wasn't all plain sailing, though. The race was not yet an hour old when the #7 908's chances of victory all but vanished.
With question marks hanging over whether or not the Peugeot team could compete with the flawless efficiency of the Joest Audi squad over a 24-hour period, it released Pedro Lamy's car into the path of its own customer 908, run by Pescarolo. The resulting puncture and repairs meant that one of the works effort's three cars was seven laps down inside 60 minutes.
The pole-sitting #8 Peugeot also hit trouble. The crew enjoyed a sizable lead in the early stages following an excellent opening stint of the race by Franck Montagny. But it was still light on Saturday evening when its hopes began to fade as well.
The car spent 10 minutes in the garage having its left-rear upright rebuilt and rejoined a couple of laps off the lead. Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Bourdais charged non-stop through the night - with Bourdais producing a particularly impressive stint - to drag the car back into contention.
Had it been chasing an Audi, there may well have been a battle to remember throughout Sunday, but unfortunately for the drivers of the #8 car, the #9 908 had already cemented a solid lead.GT2
The GT2 class was the polar opposite of its GT1 cousin, for the first half of the race at least. Four of the leading cars ran nose-to-tail during the first two hours on Saturday in a thrilling dice that unfortunately couldn't last for the whole distance.
The pole-winning Team Felbermayr Porsche was first to fall by the wayside. Richard Lietz picked up a puncture and dropped out of the lead battle, and the car was forced into retirement just under two hours into the race when the reserve fuel line failed and the car ran out of gas at the pitlane entry.
Porsche still had the upper hand in the early stages thanks to the Flying Lizards and IMSA cars edging away from the Risi Competizione and Farnbacher Ferrari 430s.
The first six GT2 cars were still within a lap of each other six hours into the race, but the Risi car was soon able to pull clear as the remaining Porsches hit trouble.
The IMSA car had to make a lengthy stop to have its engine restrictor replaced early on Saturday evening. It was still circulating just out of reach of the class leaders until Sunday morning when a transmission problem eventually halted its charge.
The Flying Lizards Porsche was a force at the front of the class early in the race with Jorg Bergmeister behind the wheel, but it lost several laps when Seth Nieman had an off on Saturday evening, and then retired for good when Darren Law crashed it early on Sunday morning.
The Ferraris didn't need much of an invitation from the struggling Porsches to take over the class, and the Risi car hit the front at one-quarter distance. A stop-and-go penalty to punish Mika Salo for corner cutting wasn't enough to halt its charge and the team had a lap's lead by nightfall. The advantage was doubled by sunrise and the experienced crew guided the car home without drama on Sunday.
The JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rob Bell, Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Sugden settled into second place during the night, but the team struggled with clutch problems on Sunday morning before a suspension failure had the 430 limping back to the pits on three wheels by lunch time.
That allowed the BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari of Matteo Malucelli, Paolo Ruberti and Fabio Babini to move into second place, with the second Risi 430 completing the class podium.