Raffaele Marciello passed Kelvin van der Linde to take the lead of the California 8 Hours late in the first hour of the race.
The joint championship leader finished the hour with a two-second lead in the No. 43 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 ahead of van der Linde’s Audi Sport Team Land car.
The South African led from pole position for the first 50 minutes before Marciello made his way past shortly before the first round of pit stops.
Maxi Goetz replaced Marciello at the wheel of the lead Strakka car at the end of the opening stint.
Robin Frijns was classified third before the stops in his WRT-run Audi R8 LMS GT4, ahead of Tristan Vautier’s SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes in fourth.
Luca Stolz has the GT3 Pro-Am class lead from fifth overall in the second SunEnergy1 Mercedes that he shares with Bronze points leader Kenny Habul.
James Sofronas is out front in GT4 for GMG Racing with the No. 2 Audi R8 LMS GT4 after the pole-sitting Panoz Avezzano GT4 dropped back throughout the hour.
The field is currently behind the race’s first safety car, called to retrieve Mark Wilkins’ Hyundai i30N TCR from the gravel trap.
Charles Espenlaub ran out of gas in his Automatic Racing Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 during the safety car period.