Jules Gounon leads the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa with four hours remaining in a period of the race that was interrupted by a lengthy safety car period.
The No. 88 AMG Team Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo leads the overall order, ahead of the No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3 of Augusto Farfus.
Gounon moved ahead after a pit stop by the No. 95 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Nicki Thiim, who short-fueled during an earlier service.
Thiim was able to vault ahead of the pack due to a shorter stop under caution than rivals Gounon and Vanthoor, which was done in an attempt to gain track position.
These stops took place during a safety car period that lasted for nearly an hour, caused by a big crash for the No. 188 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 driven by Miguel Ramos.
Ramos made contact with the No. 93 Sky-Tempesta Racing Mercedes-AMG of Chris Froggatt on the run towards Blanchimont, sending the McLaren hard into the barrier on driver’s left.
Garage 59 confirmed on social media that Ramos was unharmed from the crash.
The impact required lengthy barrier repairs, thus causing a significant interruption of the race.
Once the race resumed, Thiim sat in sixth position ahead of Gounon but cycled to the front as the cars ahead came in.
Gounon, meanwhile spent the laps after the resumption battling with the No. 47 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R of Laurens Vanthoor, with Vanthoor initially ahead after the Mercedes-AMG was tagged into a spin by Sky-Tempesta’s Jonathan Hui at the final corner.
The Frenchman eventually retook the position with a move into La Source before Vanthoor came in for a stop.
That left him clear to pick up the lead once Thiim entered the pit lane.
Augusto Farfus’ No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3, which led the race prior to the safety car but fell back with an ill-timed stop just before racing resumed, now sits second.
He leads the No. 50 sister BMW of Max Hesse, part of the BMW Junior Team, with Maro Engel fourth for AMG Team GruppeM.
The class lead in the majority of the other categories has also changed hands.
The crash for Ramos has promoted the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari currently driven by Alessio Rovera to the head of the Pro-Am class.
Another class contender, the No. 24 Herberth Motorsport Porsche, was also taken out after contact with Emil Frey Racing’s Leo Roussel.
Silver Cup, meanwhile is now in the hands of the No. 14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Stuart White.
Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No. 35 BMW has regained the class lead from the No. 20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG in Bronze Cup.
Gold Cup has not changed hands: the No. 83 Iron Dames Ferrari driven by Michelle Gatting still leads that class.