After a straightforward opening segment, the 70th edition Total 24 Hours of Spa came to life just after the three-hour mark.
The latest portion of the race began under full-course yellow following a crash for the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin.
That shook up the order, with only the #8 Bentley Team M-Sport machine retaining its place among the front-runners. Behind the new-spec Continental GT3, the #114 Emil Frey Lexus vaulted up the standings to run second, ahead of the #23 GT Sport Motul Team RJN Nissan.
There was almost immediate drama when the race went green as the #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini made heavy contact with the #58 Garage 59 McLaren, causing significant damage to both cars. The pair were forced to pit for lengthy repairs, while the #63 was also hit with a 30-second stop-go penalty. They continue to circulate, albeit several laps off the pace.
Out front the #8 Bentley built a sizeable lead, but another full-course yellow – this time caused by the #17 WRT-Audi shedding its left-rear wheel – provided more drama.
The #8 Bentley emerged at the head of the field once again, with Andy Soucek now at the wheel, followed by Kelvin van der Linde in the #29 Montaplast by Land Audi and the #23 Nissan of Matt Parry.
That was the state of affairs at four and a half hours, with Soucek holding an advantage of almost 10s over Van der Linde, while 23 of the 63 starters remained on the lead lap.
In the Pro-Am class, the #49 RAM Racing Mercedes found itself in a lofty P4 overall following the initial full-course yellow and was able to stay ahead of the chasing Pro cars for several laps. A radiator problem then halted the British squad’s progress and sent the Mercedes into the pits. At four and a half hours, the #42 Strakka Mercedes led the class and ran 14th overall.
The #54 Emil Frey Jaguar remained at the head of the Silver Cup field, circulating in 25th overall and more than 40s clear of the pursuing #78 Barwell Lamborghini. In an ever-changing Am Cup battle the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche held top spot and 39th overall, while the GDL Lamborghini still led Groupe National.