Alexander Wurz turned pole position into a commanding early lead for the #7 Toyota in the first hour of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The ex-Formula 1 driver controlled the race from the beginning, extending his lead with relative ease as a frantic battle developed behind him.
Nicolas Lapierre, who made short work of Neel Jani's Porsche in the early laps, found himself fighting with the Audis of Andre Lotterer and Marco Bonanomi after the first pitstops.
As the first hour drew to a close both Audis had got the better of the Toyota, despite the Japanese car clearly enjoying a straightline speed advantage.
Their scrap was a thriller, with the cars trading blows - and positions - on several occasions as neither manufacturer wanted to give an inch in the early part of the race.
Further back, Tom Kristensen and Timo Bernhard had just as lively a scrap over fifth place, repeatedly swapping positions, while Jani dropped out of contention when the #20 Porsche slowed just after the half-hour mark and had to spend nine minutes in the garage while a fuel pressure issue received attention.
There was a moment of drama in the pits when Wurz was released just ahead of Lotterer as the Audi came in, and the #7 Toyota was placed under investigation for the incident.
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Alexander Imperatori leads the LMP2 class after charging from seventh to first in the #48 KCMG ORECA.
He holds a lead of 16 seconds over the OAK-run G-Drive Racing Ligier of Jann Mardenborough, with the Zytek of Harry Tincknell, which took the lead at the start, now running fourth behind pole position starter Tristan Gommendy's #46 TDS Ligier.
The SMP Racing squad had a tough start, with Mika Salo having to bring in the #27 car for repair to the left-rear suspension. Nicolas Minassian then brought the sister #37 car into the pits, where it remains, with an engine problem.
The Nissan ZEOD RC, running in the Garage 56 slot for experimental cars with green credentials, became the first retirement after completing only five laps.
The car lost drive and stopped at the Porsche Curves with Wolfgang Reip at the wheel, with the team stating it had suffered a suspected gearbox failure.
A request was made to be able to recover the car to race control on the basis that as a Garage 56 entry it is running outside of the overall classification, but this was turned down.
AF CORSE LEADS GTE FIELD
Gianmaria Bruni leads in GTE for the AF Corse Ferrari team, having regained the advantage from the Corvette of Jan Magnussen.
Bruni led from pole initially as Sam Bird's Am-class 458 Italia held back Magnussen, the Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner and Oliver Gavin in the second C7.R.
Once Magnussen had cleared Bird though, he slashed Bruni's two-second advantage to nothing and got past on the run down towards Indianapolis just before the 45-minute mark.
Before the pitstops, Bruni jumped back in front, and after the first hour led the #74 Corvette driven by Gavin, which jumped its sister car courtesy of an earlier pitstop.
The #81 AF Ferrari leads the Am division, even though Bird has fallen behind the leading quartet of Pro cars. The Briton was almost a dozen seconds clear of the first of the Astons, with Nicki Thiim's #95 Vantage well clear of the #72 SMP Ferrari driven by Andrea Bertolini.
POSITIONS AFTER 1 HOUR
Pos Cl Car Drivers Laps Gap
1. LMP1 #7 Toyota Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima 16
2. LMP1 #2 Audi Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer 16 + 36.391s
3. LMP1 #3 Audi Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis 16 + 38.701s
4. LMP1 #8 Toyota Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi 16 + 39.577s
5. LMP1 #1 Audi Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen 16 + 1m16.613s
6. LMP1 #20 Porsche Bernhard/Webber/Hartley 16 + 1m17.368s
7. LMP1 #12 Rebellion Prost/Heidfeld/Beche 15 + 1 Lap
8. LMP1 #13 Rebellion Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer 15 + 1m26.536s
9. LMP2 #47 Oreca Howson/Bradley/Imperatori 15 + 1m55.616s
10. LMP2 #35 Ligier Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy 15 + 2m10.757s
11. LMP2 #46 Ligier Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy 15 + 2m15.179s
12. LMP2 #38 Zytek Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey 15 + 2m16.947s
13. LMP2 #34 Oreca Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster 15 + 2m17.769s
14. LMP2 #24 Oreca Rast/Charouz/Capillaire 15 + 2m19.281s
15. LMP2 #26 Morgan Rusinov/Pla/Canal 15 + 2m22.092s
16. LMP2 #48 Oreca Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok 15 + 2m23.750s
17. LMP2 #36 Alpine Chatin/Panciatici/Webb 15 + 2m26.955s
18. LMP2 #33 Ligier Cheng/Tung/Fong 15 + 2m48.507s
19. LMP2 #43 Morgan Klien/Hirsch/Brandela 15 + 2m49.754s
20. LMP2 #41 Zytek Munemman/Latif/Winslow 15 + 2m58.335s
21. LMP2 #50 Morgan Ragues/Taylor/Ihara 15 + 3m10.372s
22. LMP2 #29 Morgan Schell/Leutwiller/Roussel 14 + 2 Laps
23. LMP2 #42 Zytek Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson 14 + 1.959s
24. GTEP #51 Ferrari Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella 14 + 1m39.361s
25. GTEP #74 Chevrolet Gavin/Milner/Westbrook 14 + 1m41.271s
26. GTEP #73 Chevrolet Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor 14 + 1m42.973s
27. GTEA #66 Ferrari Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly 14 + 1m46.558s
28. GTEA #76 Porsche Narac/Armindo/Hallyday 14 + 1m47.156s
29. GTEP #97 Aston Turner/Mucke/Senna 14 + 1m54.429s
30. GTEA #81 Ferrari Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird 14 + 1m55.225s
31. GTEP #92 Porsche Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz 14 + 1m57.136s
32. GTEA #72 Ferrari Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov 14 + 2m04.794s
33. GTEA #95 Aston Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim 14 + 2m05.054s
34. GTEP #91 Porsche Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy 14 + 2m11.179s
35. GTEA #90 Ferrari Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti 14 + 2m13.785s
36. GTEA #98 Aston Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard 14 + 2m23.957s
37. GTEP #52 Ferrari Griffin/Parente/Leo 14 + 2m26.268s
38. GTEA #60 Ferrari Mann/Case/Giammaria 14 + 2m27.148s
39. GTEA #88 Porsche Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi 14 + 2m30.213s
40. GTEP #71 Ferrari Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta 14 + 2m33.689s
41. GTEA #77 Porsche Dempsey/Foster/Long 14 + 2m34.429s
42. GTEA #53 Ferrari Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton 14 + 2m43.853s
43. GTEA #58 Ferrari Barthez/Pons/Ayari 14 + 2m46.397s
44. GTEA #67 Porsche Maris/Merlin/Helary 14 + 2m50.045s
45. GTEA #57 Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Collins 14 + 3m11.042s
46. GTEA #61 Ferrari Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi 13 + 3 Laps
47. GTEA #75 Porsche Perrodo/Collard/Palttala 13 + 2m35.022s
48. GTEA #70 Ferrari Nakano/Ehret/Rich 13 + 2m51.506s
49. GTEA #62 Ferrari Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank 13 + 5m35.566s
50. GTEP #79 Porsche MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen 12 + 4 Laps
51. LMP1 #14 Porsche Dumas/Jani/Lieb 11 + 5 Laps
52. LMP2 #37 Oreca Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani 9 + 7 Laps
53. LMP2 #27 Oreca Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin 8 + 8 Laps
54. CDNT #0 Nissan Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama 5 + 11 Laps