The Tokai University team was denied a finish in its historic debut in the Le Mans 24 Hours after a transmission problem forced the Japanese team to retire from the 76th running of the famous race at La Sarthe.

The Le Mans project started back in 2001 with Professor Yoshimasa Hayashi and his team setting out on the long road to become the first university team to enter the race in 2008.

Over 150 students have taken part in the programme since it started, leading to the completion of study car in 2005 and official backing to make an entry into the greatest sportscar race of them all with a Courage chassis powered by a YGK powerplant.

Having secured an entry into the race, the team signed up Toshio Suzuki, Masami Kageyama and Haruki Kurosawa to perform driving duties, with a group of students making up the team that would run the car during the race.

Forced to start from the rear of the field having been the slowest of the LMP1 machines in qualifying, the team battled a number of problems - including an oil leak and a braking issue - to run through until the 18th hour of the race.

However, having kept its challenge on course longer than a number of more fancied runners, the team was forced to call time on its race having completed 185 laps when the car ground to a halt on track and Kurosawa was unable to bring it back to the pits due to transmission problem.

"It is just so very disappointing that we had to retire," project leader Hayashi said. "The condition of the engine was perfect; it seems that a combination of the engine and drive-line did not match well.

"Participation in this race has been a great experience and we hope to apply it into our future research projects."