Irish actor Michael Fassbender and eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier were among the drivers of the 62 cars which set off on Saturday at the start of the 90th edition of the Le Mans 24 hours race.
The race got underway in glorious conditions at 4:00 pm local time (1400GMT) and ends 24 hours later on Sunday.
Race favourites Toyota started in pole for the sixth successive race thanks to the efforts of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa on Thursday.
The trio won the race in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The second Toyota hybrid, with 2021 pole-sitter Kamui Kobayashi behind the wheel, and backed up by Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, locked out the front row for the Japanese manufacturer.
Awaiting a Toyota failure lies three other hypercars, the Alpine of Andre Negrao, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Lapierre and the two Glickenhaus cars.
Next year, many teams will be back on the Sarthe circuit in the premier category for the centenary edition of the race.
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.
"I was consistent," he said after qualifying. "Consistently slow but at least consistent!"