Kevin Estre led a Porsche 1-2-3 at the end of the first hour of the Kyalami 9 Hour while championship leader Maxi Buhk’s GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 retired on the opening lap.
Dennis Olsen started from pole in the Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R but let Estre, driving the Total 24 Hours of Spa-winning GPX Racing Porsche, pass for the lead after around 30 minutes.
Laurens Vanthoor sits third in Dinamic Motorsport’s car, putting three Porsches in the top three positions.
The biggest drama of the race so far came on the opening lap when Buhk was forced to retire the No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes.
He slowed down a few corners into the lap and appeared to perform a technical reset that got him going again, until he came to a standstill and was pushed behind the wall (pictured below).
Buhk came into the weekend with the points lead but has already had a challenging couple of days after a crash for teammate Maro Engel forced GruppeM to repair the car overnight on Thursday.
Mercedes-AMG’s best hopes lie with the SPS Automotive Performance car that performed an early pit stop after just 45 minutes, putting Maxi Goetz onto an alternative strategy, while Gary Paffett had a short stop with no tire change in the Strakka Racing car.
Markus Winkelhock is circulating fourth in the best-placed Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, while Dane Cameron is fifth for Honda Team Motul.
Garage 59’s Pro-Am Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is also in the garage after Chris Goodwin went off track into the gravel, picking up damage.