Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP led the Total 24 Hours of Spa after six hours, holding a narrow advantage at the head of a close-fought battle for the top positions.
Felipe Fraga was at the wheel of the #88 car as the race reached one-quarter distance, the Brazilian having taken the lead with a pass on Andrea Caldarelli (#63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini) 30 minutes earlier.
Raffaele Marciello led the 56-car field away from pole and maintained his advantage for the first two hours of competition, but the #88 Mercedes-AMG slipped to second when a rapid pit stop from Orange1 FFF Racing crew allowed Marco Mapelli to snatch the lead. The two Italians then ran in close quarters throughout the third hour.
During the fourth hour Mapelli was able to edge away from Fraga, who had taken over from Marciello in the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP machine. Michael Christensen ran third in the #47 KCMG Porsche, just 0.8s shy of the Brazilian, while Dries Vanthoor (#31 Audi Sport Team WRT) was also a factor at the head of the field.
Andrea Caldarelli took the controls of the #63 Lamborghini next and continued to lead from Kelvin van der Linde in the #31 Audi Sport Team WRT car. This was the state of affairs until 30 minutes from the six-hour mark, when Van der Linde was hit with a drive-through penalty for track limits abuses and dropped to the lower reaches of the top-10. The same fate had also befallen the #47 KCMG Porsche.
It was shortly after this that Fraga completed a pass for the lead, making better work of traffic to slip by Caldarelli. The positions were then frozen by a full-course yellow period caused by #26 Sainteloc Racing hitting the wall at the exit of Blanchimont.
Patrick Pilet had moved into third by the six-hour mark following a strong performance from the #12 GPX Racing Porsche crew. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari ran fourth, followed by Audi Sport Team Attempto with its #66 machine. As such, the top-five positions were filled by as many different manufacturers at one-quarter distance.
The Pro-Am class was led by the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin, which made significant progress at the start with Maxime Martin at the wheel. Alexander West and Jonny Adam both took turns at the controls during the opening six hours before local star Martin returned to the cockpit and ran 19th overall.
That placed the Belgian one spot ahead of Patrick Kujala in the Silver Cup-leading #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini. The reigning class winner surrendered the lead only briefly in the opening phase after a drive-through dropped it to second, but returned to the lead within an hour of its penalty. The Am Cup was led by the #129 Raton Racing Lamborghini with Stefano Costantini at the wheel after the Italian squad took advantage of an off-track moment for the rival #918 Herberth Motorsport Porsche.
There was drama just as the clock reached six-hours when #31 Audi Sport Team WRT pulled over at Raidillon, a drivetrain issue serving to remove one of the leading contenders from the race. The sister #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT machine was eliminated by a collision with the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW, while the #55 Attempto Racing Audi and the #19 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini were also out of the running. Racing resumed at 22.10 CEST, with Fraga looking to hold off Caldarelli and establish a lead for the #88 Mercedes-AMG.