The Porsches were able to turn up the turbo boost in qualifying, thus were able to qualify in the top spots. Early in the race Jaguar proved to be faster and overtook all the Porsches (In the normal race configuration turbo boost) by the 2nd lap.
After four years of trying with previous evolutions, Jaguar took the XJR-9 to victory against Porsche's works 962C in 1988. Apart from a lone Jaguar in fourth, Porsches filled the rest of the top ten. The Sauber-Mercedes team withdrew prior to the event following concerns over blowouts from their Michelin tyres. The race covered a distance of 5,332.97 km, the most distance covered in any of the Le Mans 24 hours races, except 1971 when the Martini Racing Team Porsche 917K covered 5,335.313 km in 397 laps. Those records would however be broken over 20 years later in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, when the #9 Audi R15 TDI plus of Joest Racing (under the name Audi Sport North America) tied the record for the number of laps around the Le Mans circuit (at 397 laps) and, due to its changing course configurations (such as the Mulsanne Straight chicanes), set an outright distance record of 5,410.7 km (3,362.1 mi)—roughly the distance between Miami and Seattle—over the 13.629-km course configuration.
This was the second-to-last 24-hour race without chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight, and Team WM Peugeot had prioritised breaking the speed record that year. The WM-P88 Peugeot driven by Frenchman Roger Dorchy managed to reach a top speed of 405 km/h (252 mph) at the end of the 5.8 kilometre long Mulsanne Straight having struggled with reliability for the entire event. Following the record setting run, the issues that had plagued the car all weekend (turbocharger, cooling and electrical) finally ended their race.
The Jaguar team suffered from gearbox problems, Lammers holding the car in 4th gear to prevent the gearbox from damaging itself. The Bell, Stuck, Ludwig Porsche 962C came very close to winning, with Ludwig making a rare error by running out of fuel on the track and losing valuable time getting back to the pits. The win ended Porsche's 7-year reign at Le Mans. At least 50,000 British spectators were in attendance. At the end of the race the crowd flooded the track and drivers had trouble reaching the finish line. There were 280,000 spectators in attendance. The race was held from 15:00 to 15:00 because of French elections. The winning chassis had failed to finish at the previous four rounds.
Class leaders are in bold
|1||17||Porsche AG||Porsche 962C||C1||3:15.640|
|2||18||Porsche AG||Porsche 962C||C1||3:18.620||+2.980|
|3||19||Porsche AG||Porsche 962C||C1||3:21.770||+6.130|
|4||1||Silk Cut Jaguar||Jaguar XJR-9||C1||3:21.780||+6.140|
|5||8||Blaupunkt Joest Racing||Porsche 962C||C1||3:23.300||+7.660|
|6||2||Silk Cut Jaguar||Jaguar XJR-9||C1||3:23.740||+8.100|
|7||11||Leyton House Kremer Racing||Porsche 962C||C1||3:24.730||+9.090|
|8||36||Toyota Team Tom’s||Toyota 88C||C1||3:25.390||+9.750|
|9||21||Silk Cut Jaguar||Jaguar XJR-9||C1||3:25.420||+9.780|
|10||37||Toyota Team Tom’s||Toyota 88C||C1||3:26.570||+10.930|
|11||22||Silk Cut Jaguar||Jaguar XJR-9||C1||3:26.780||+11.140|
|12||3||Silk Cut Jaguar||Jaguar XJR-9||C1||3:26.820||+11.180|
|13||5||Repsol Brun Motorsport||Porsche 962C||C1||3:28.090||+12.450|
|14||33||Takefuji Schuppan Racing Team||Porsche 962C||C1||3:28.300||+12.660|
|15||23||Nissan Motorsports||Nissan R88C||C1||3:29.440||+13.800|
|16||127||Chamberlain Engineering||Spice SE86C||C2||3:30.260||+14.620|
|17||13||Primagaz Compétition||Cougar C20B||C1||3:30.370||+14.730|
|18||4||Camel Brun Motorsport||Porsche 962C||C1||3:30.550||+14.910|
|19||86||Italiya Sport||March 88S||C1||3:31.140||+15.500|
|20||7||Blaupunkt Joest Racing||Porsche 962C||C1||3:32.210||+16.570|
|21||10||Kenwood Kremer Racing||Porsche 962C||C1||3:32.480||+16.840|
|22||52||WM Secateva||WM P87||C1||3:34.650||+19.010|
|23||32||Nissan Motorsports||Nissan R88C||C1||3:34.660||+19.020|
|24||72||Primagaz Compétition||Porsche 962C||C1||3:35.630||+19.990|
|25||85||Italiya Sport||March 88S||C1||3:35.860||+20.220|
|26||111||Spice Engineering||Spice SE88C||C2||3:37.840||+22.200|
|27||42||Noël del Bello Racing||Sauber C8||C1||3:38.300||+22.660|
|28||202||Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd.||Mazda 767||GTP||3:39.320||+23.680|
|29||201||Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd.||Mazda 767||GTP||3:39.600||+23.960|
|30||121||Cosmik GP Motorsport||Spice SE87C||C2||3:40.050||+24.390|
|31||24||Dollop Racing||Lancia LC2||C1||3:40.190||+24.530|
|32||123||Charles Ivey Racing||Tiga GC287||C2||3:40.710||+25.070|
|33||131||Graff Racing||Spice SE86C||C2||3:40.980||+25.320|
|34||107||Chamberlain Engineering||Spice SE88C||C2||3:41.180||+25.520|
|35||103||BP Spice Engineering||Spice SE88C||C2||3:41.210||+25.550|
|36||51||WM Secateva||WM P88||C1||3:41.480||+25.840|
|37||203||Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd.||Mazda 757||GTP||3:44.990||+29.350|
|38||30||Courage Compétition||Cougar C22||C1||3:45.340||+29.700|
|39||177||Automobiles Louis Descartes||ALD 04||C2||3:45.950||+30.310|
|40||117||Team Lucky Strike Schanche||Argo JM19||C2||3:47.460||+31.820|
|41||124||MT Sport Racing||Argo JM19||C2||3:53.210||+37.570|
|42||178||Automobiles Louis Descartes||ALD 03||C2||3:53.340||+37.700|
|43||151||Pierre-Alain Lombardi||Rondeau M379||C2||3:53.740||+38.100|
|44||198||Roy Baker Racing||Tiga GC286||C2||3:56.000||+40.360|
|45||113||Primagaz Compétition||Cougar C12||C2||3:56.510||+40.870|
|46||115||ADA Engineering||ADA 03||C2||3:58.940||+43.300|
|47||20||Team Davey||Tiga GC88||C1||3:59.200||+43.560|
|48||181||Luigi Taverna Technoracing||Olmas GLT-200||C2||3:59.980||+44.340|
|49||191||PC Automotive||Argo JM19||C2||4:03.020||+47.380|
|50||132||Roland Bassaler||Sauber SHS C6||C2||4:06.650||+51.110|
|WD||62||Team Sauber-Mercedes||Sauber C9||C1||3:30.460|
|WD||61||Team Sauber-Mercedes||Sauber C9||C1||3:30.800|
Class winners in bold. Cars failing to complete 70% of the winner's distance marked as Not Classified (NC).
- Pole Position – Hans-Joachim Stuck, #17 Porsche AG – 3:15.64 (154.758 mph/249.058 km/h)
- Fastest Lap – Hans-Joachim Stuck, #17 Porsche AG – 3:22.50
- Distance – 5332.97 km
- Average Speed – 221.765 km/h
- Highest Trap Speed - #51 WM P87 Secateva - 253 mph (407 km/h) (qualifying) (all-time record)
- "FIA World Sports-Prototype Championship 1988 - 24 h Le Mans". World Sports Racing Prototypes. 2 October 2005. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
- "Le Mans 24 Hours 1988". Racing Sports Cars. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Page, James (29 May 2018). "Remembering Le Mans 1988". Classic & Sports Car. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
- "Mulsanne's Corner: Maximum Speeds at le Mans, 1961-1989".
- Lis, Alan (July 2012). "Built for Speed". Racecar Engineering: 36–40. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- Watkins, Gary (8 June 2018). "The disaster lurking behind Jaguar's 1988 Le Mans win". Autosport. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
- "1988 Le Mans 24 Hours report". Motor Sport magazine. July 1988.
- "THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1988 24 HOURS OF LE MANS". Automobile Club de l'Ouest. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2021.