Le Mans 24 Hours success will now be compared to buses by Aston Martin Racing for, having had to wait 48 years to add to its 1959 overall triumph, the team racked up a second GT1 class win in as many years.

One year on from its first victory in the class, the #009 DBR9 of David Brabham, Antonio Garcia and Darren Turner repeated as champions at La Sarthe, overcoming traditional rival Corvette in a tense, race-long battle.

Clothed this time in the iconic Gulf livery, the #009 took the lead within the first three hours but, despite remaining out front, it was shadowed constantly by the best of the American-based C6.Rs. Intermittent rain and safety car periods made the duel closer still - at one point, halfway through the race, the AMR entry and its pursuer were separated by less than four seconds and, even at the finish, the two cars were less than five minutes apart, having covered more than 4500km.

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The suspense remained right up until the end of an epic race as further rain fell within an hour of the finish, making every decision crucial. A wrong tyre choice, or the smallest mistake from any of the drivers, would have cost the coveted victory, but the winning trio remained flawless throughout, newcomer Garcia soaking up the Corvette pressure at its closest.

"It was actually a perfect event for us, but there were some stressful moments," the Spaniard revealed, "When I got the message in the middle of the night that the Corvette was right behind me, I was a bit worried at first - but then I realised that we had the pace to pull away and, from then on, it was a bit easier. Mechanically, the car has been perfect - very quick, and very easy to drive."

Turner, an AMR driver since the programme started in 2005 and one to have experienced the highs and lows of Le Mans, drove two crucial stints that were key to the victory - a quadruple stint during the night, and the penultimate run in hazardous wet/dry conditions.

"Lots of people say that winning is easier the second time round, but I'm not sure that's true," he said, "You drive to a completely different set of rules in this situation. You don't try to be competitive; you just try to be safe and consistent. Even if you drop a few seconds a lap to your rivals, it doesn't matter.

"Every victory is tough, but this one was something else. The fact that we managed to achieve it against such strong opposition is a huge tribute to the entire team. Conditions were far from easy but, thanks to a great car and a great team, we were able to do it."

The second factory Aston finished fourth in class after a comeback drive from Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Andrea Piccini and Karl Wendlinger. The #007 car was running in a strong third overall when it encountered an alternator problem just after 5am on Sunday morning, but some excellent pit work meant that the car was out again in just 15 minutes, and then ran faultlessly to the finish.

The privateer DBR9 of Team Modena finished eighth in the GT1 class, despite a couple of setbacks including a puncture.