Defending champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez were pushed into second in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race on Sunday as the latter Toyota driver encountered a mechanical problem.
Lopez was forced to stop his car having slowed completely down, before restarting and managing to get into the pits around 0545 GMT.
That technical glitch handed the lead to the second Toyota driven by Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.
After 300 laps at 0910 GMT, with Hirawaka at the wheel, the second Toyota led by 3min 16.454sec.
Toyota had started in pole for the sixth successive race thanks to the efforts of that trio who won the race in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
In third place were Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Franck Mailleux in a Glickenhaus, four laps off the lead.
Irish actor Michael Fassbender and eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier were among the drivers of the 62 cars which set off at the start of the 90th edition of the classic feat of endurance.
About a quarter of the 186 drivers entered are competing in their first 24 Hours of Le Mans, including movie star Fassbender, driving a Porsche 911 RSR in the Proton competition.
Fassbender, who has twice been nominated for Oscars, crashed during his fourth lap in qualifying but did not suffer any injury.
Back at the wheel, his team sat 52nd, 43 laps behind the Toyotas.
Josh Pierson took to the track two hours into the race to become the youngest driver in event history at 16 years and 118 days.
The record had been expected since the American was named alongside experienced Britons Alexander Lynn and Oliver Jarvis as one of the three drivers for the United Autosports Oreca in the second-tier LMP2 class.
The car struggled with early technical issues and was 11th, with Pierson at the wheel, 11 laps off the pace.
As he drove onto the track, Pierson broke the record held by compatriot Matt McMurry who was 16 years and 202 days when he drove in 2014.
Of the 186 drivers, only five are women, half as many as in 1935.