The #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari led the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa at two-thirds distance. Nicklas Nielsen was 14 seconds clear at the 16-hour mark, though the gap had been more than double this prior to a full-course yellow/safety car period that began at a little before 8am.
Having topped the order at six and 12 hours, the #51 crew of Pier Guidi/Ledogar/Nielsen stretched its lead during the early morning stint as the battle for victory narrowed to a handful of cars. The Ferrari faced its biggest challenge from the #32 Audi Sport Team WRT entry, though the advantage clearly lay with the Italian marque's 488 GT3.
Nielsen was 40 seconds clear when the #16 Grasser Racing Lamborghini hit the barriers, neutralising the race and providing a perfect opportunity for teams to perform the mandatory technical pit stop. When racing resumed, the Ferrari led by six seconds behind the safety car.
Vanthoor was P2 in the #32 Audi, while the #95 Garage 59 Aston Martin continued to show well in third spot, albeit more than half a minute shy of the #51 Ferrari. At 16 hours these were the only three cars running on the lead lap.
Next up was the #66 Audi Sport Team Attempto, the #47 KCMG Porsche and the #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini. Five brands were represented in the overall top-six at this stage of the race.
The main casualty of the early morning was the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP car, which was forced to retire from what had been third position. A problem with the left-rear damper had been causing the team concern throughout the early morning hours, but a little after 7am it broke for good and put the pole-sitting AMG GT3 out of the race.
The #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG still led in the Silver Cup, holding a healthy advantage over the #159 Garage 59 Aston Martin. The #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG also remained in contention, sitting third at this stage.
Ferrari was on top in the Pro-Am class, too, with the #52 AF Corse machine holding a one-lap lead over the sister #53 car and the #93 Sky Tempesta Racing machine sitting third. The #166 Hägeli by T2 Racing Porsche was comfortably leading the Am Cup, two laps clear of its closest rival.