Relive Porsche’s Historic Le Mans Win In Photos

Shadowing this year's Le Mans winner for 24 hours straight.

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There are plenty of reasons why endurance racing matters. Innovation. Pride. Advertising. There are also plenty of reasons why endurance racing is compelling, but mostly it’s the premise: Take people from all over the world, have them build machines capable of the unthinkable, then quarantine all those people and all those machines together for an entire day and night. Nowhere does this yield more emotion than at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year’s race was nothing short of incredible. 

Porsche won. People will tell you that actually Toyota lost, because its race-leading car suffered a total engine failure on the final lap, then rolled to a halt mere moments from greatness. But "mere moments" doesn't count. That’s just how it works, that's endurance racing: Given enough time, anything can happen.

Below, the story of the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 and its historic win, told over the course of 24 hours, in one stunning photo set.

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The No. 2 leads off the start on a damp Circuit de la Sarthe, leaving a neat all-wheel drive spray for the field behind.

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The race's early going is as much about strategy as speed. Managing fuel, tires, driver fatigue—it all matters. Recovering from an early mistake is possible; not making one to begin with is far more preferable. 

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Sunset can be a dangerous time at Le Mans, especially considering several different classes of cars share the same track. Here, the No. 2 LMP1 passes the No. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier, a slower LMP2 car.

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All night, the Porsche mechanics have to stay ready for anything...

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...because the racing doesn't stop...

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...and neither do the pit stops. Here, Marc Lieb (left) prepares to take over the No. 2 from Romain Dumas.

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The roughest patch might be early morning. Maybe 3 or 4 a.m., when the stands are emptiest, and the adrenaline is waning, and it almost feels like a lull. But it isn't. Everybody's racing, lap after lap, on and on.

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Exhaustion takes its toll.

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Then, sunrise. Glorious sunrise, a new day to catch the race leader. Which is exactly what the No. 2 car did.

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For Toyota, it's a heartbreaking loss, just one lap from glory. For Dumas and Lieb and the No. 2 Porsche, it's a slow ride down pit lane toward the podium.

And a photo worth keeping.

Hell of a race. See you all next year.