The Total 24 Hours of Spa entered its final phase with a clear winner yet to emerge at the 72nd edition of the Belgian endurance classic.
The twice-around-the-clock contest reached the 18-hour mark after a dramatic sequence of events, including a race-ending crash for the leading car.
Audi Sport Team Sainteloc led the way at three-quarter distance with Christopher Haase at the wheel of its #25 machine, having recently made a stop under safety car conditions and leapfrogged the #66 Audi Sport Team Attempto car. James Calado ran third in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, followed by the #12 GPX Racing Porsche and the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari.
One of the major turning points of the race occurred with 16 hours and 40 minutes complete when the leading #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini spun into the barriers at Raidillon. Dennis Lind was at the wheel and was able to get going again, but significant damage forced him to pull off for good at Bruxelles.
Another safety car followed just before the 17-hour mark when the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin spun at Raidillon. Chris Goodwin ended up pointing in the correct direction and continued, but the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche crashed heavily taking avoiding action.
The #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini could not get around the stricken Porsche and was also eliminated, removing a long-time contender for Silver Cup honours from the race. Shortly after the restart the #52 AF Corse Ferrari had a heavy crash that added it to the list of retirements. All drivers were able to walk away from this set of incidents.
Sky Tempesta Racing led Pro-Am at three-quarter distance, its #93 Ferrari running ahead of the #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin, which was in the hands of a charging Maxime Martin following Goodwin's spin. The #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini sat third, a lap down on the class leaders.
The departure of the #78 Barwell car gave the #5 HRT Mercedes-AMG breathing space in the Silver Cup battle. The lead swapped between these cars for several hours, but the HRT machine held a one-lap lead over the #84 HTP Mercedes-AMG shortly before 09.00 CET.
Just one car remains in the Am Cup after a crash at Raidillon eliminated the #129 Raton Racing Lamborghini, which means the #108 CMR Bentley needs only keep running to capture class honours. The race went green once again at three-quarter distance, setting up a six-hour dash for Total 24 Hours of Spa glory.