The #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin led the 70th edition Total 24 Hours of Spa after the opening 90 minutes of racing.
The car had started from pole position, but there was an immediate change of leader when the race began as Rene Rast (#2 Audi Sport Team WRT) surged past Maxime Martin's Aston on the run towards Eau Rouge.
The German driver kept his Audi R8 LMS at the head of the field for the opening exchanges, with the gap fluctuating between 0.5 and 1.2s, before ducking into the pits for his first stop just before the 50-minute mark.
Martin followed shortly afterwards, handing over to Marvin Kirchhöfer, and thanks to a rapid turnaround from the R-Motorsport crew the German driver was able to emerge ahead of the #2 Audi. Nico Muller took the wheel and was close to the Aston's rear after 90 minutes.
Third spot belonged to the #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini driven by Mirko Bortolotti. The Italian ace had started eighth and ran there for the first stint, before becoming the first front-runner to stop at the 45-minute mark.
When the pit cycle was complete Bortolotti had leapt into third, ahead of the #29 Montaplast by Land Audi and the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari. This pair had spent the opening stint disputing third place, with the position changing hands more than once, but found themselves behind the #63 Grasser-Lamborghini after making their first stops.
The #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG led the Silver Cup class after an hour and a half, though the #54 Emil Frey G3 Jaguar had been in front for the entirety of the first stint.
But the Swiss squad’s Silver Cup machine slipped back during the first round of stops, losing more than 10 places in the overall order to give the #90 Mercedes a handy class advantage.
The Pro-Am lead changed more than once during the opening 90 minutes. The #49 RAM Racing Mercedes had started on the class pole but was quickly overhauled by the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, which made impressive progress in the hands of Matt Griffin.
But a puncture after just 30 minutes meant Griffin was forced to make an unscheduled stop. That handed the lead back to the #49 Mercedes, but after the opening round of pit stops the #175 Sun Energy 1 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG held top spot.
The #188 Garage 50 McLaren retained its Am Cup lead throughout the opening stint and after the first pit stops, while GDL Racing's Lamborghini kept its place on top of the Groupe National category.
The #1 Audi Sport Team WRT machine took its three-minute stop-go penalty for a technical infringement at the end of lap one and ran 55th after 90 minutes. There was better news for the #76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin, which had started from the back after a car failure in qualifying. Excellent progress from Nicki Thiim placed the #76 in 24th – and now in the hands of Matthieu Vaxiviere – after an hour and a half.
The 70th edition Total 24 Hours of Spa can be viewed from start to finish here.