Toyota lead 24 Hours of Le Mans one-two from pole
Champions Toyota led the 24 Hours of Le Mans into the night in one-two formation at the Sarthe circuit on Saturday, with the number seven and eight GR010 hybrid hypercars repeatedly swapping the lead.
Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi started the annual endurance race from pole position in the eight car before Britain's Mike Conway took over at the front in the number seven after the first pitstops.
Conway took the victory last year with Japan's Kamui Kobayashi and Argentine Jose Maria Lopez.
After nine hours the number eight car was 26 seconds clear at the front.
Buemi shares his car with New Zealander Brendon Hartley and Japan's Ryo Hirokawa.
Toyota are chasing their fifth Le Mans overall victory in a row and are favourites as the only major manufacturer in a field of five hypercars, the top category.
Glickenhaus Racing's number 709 car was in third place with Britain's Richard Westbrook, French driver Franck Mailleux and American Ryan Briscoe.
The number 36 Alpine A480-Gibson hypercar of Brazilian Andre Negrai and Frenchmen Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere was eight laps behind after extensive mechanical repairs.
Three second tier LMP2 cars were involved in a collision at the first corner, with the number 22 United Autosports car driven by American Will Owen having to be lifted out of the gravel before re-joining.
The 90th edition of the race started in front of packed grandstands with the 62-strong field formally sent on their way by TotalEnergies chairman Patrick Pouyanne.
The field included the youngest ever competitor, 16-year-old American Josh Pierson with United Autosports in the second tier LMP2 category, and German-Irish Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender at the wheel of a Porsche 911.
Several ex-Formula One drivers are taking part along with reigning Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, a late replacement for Philippe Cimadomo after the 62-year-old Frenchman was excluded after repeat crashes.
Stewards said Cimadomo was a concern "for the safety of himself and other competitors".
Former Le Mans winners Gerard Larrousse, 82, and Henri Pescarolo, 79, earlier took to the track in Matra cars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the French marque's first Le Mans victory.
There was also a pre-race lap of honour by the electric-hydrogen H24 prototype.
The entire field is running with a 100% renewable fuel for the first time.
The endurance race, which will celebrate its centenary next year, ends at 1400GMT on Sunday.