Sebastien Buemi led the opening hour of the Total Six Hours of Spa, shortly before the race entered its second safety car period for a violent crash at Eau Rouge for the No. 67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell.
The Briton was chasing down GTE-Pro class leader and teammate Stefan Muecke when what appeared to be a failure on the left-side of the car pitched it hard into the outside tire barriers.
Tincknell walked away from the incident, which caused the second stoppage of the race after Michael Wainwright crashed on the opening lap in the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
Buemi, piloting the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid that started from pole, ended the first 60-minutes with a 35-second advantage over Andre Lotterer in the second-placed Rebellion Racing R13 Gibson.
The Swiss driver fended off a brief attack from Lotterer at the esses, before stretching out a considerable gap through the opening round of green-flag pit stops.
At the time of Tincknell’s accident, the sister Rebellion of Thomas Laurent was close behind its teammate in third, with Stephane Sarrazin running fourth and 1 minute 40 seconds down on the leader in the best of the SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AERs.
SMP’s second car lost time when it was forced to make an unexpected stop for a front-left puncture, while the No. 7 Toyota was recovering from a lap down following its disqualification from qualifying.
In LMP2, Giedo van der Garde charged from seventh on the grid to the class lead during the opening hour.
Behind the wheel of the Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 Gibson, Van der Garde moved up to third before the safety car and proceeded to close in on Roman Rusinov in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.
The first hour of GTE-Am, going into the first round of stops, was led by Mathias Lauda in the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE.
Christian Ried in the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR led early but was quickly hounded by Lauda until the Aston driver found a way past around the outside at Blanchimont.