The Safety car for the bizarre incident between the LMP3 and GTE Championship leading cars saw the field close right up, Simon Dolan though was right on the button on the restart, allowing the lapped Dragonspeed car by and concentrating on the job in hand, rebuilding a gap.
The #46 meanwhile was still in the garage, their Championship hopes now in the hands of the fortunes of the #38.
Behind Andreas Wirth was making little headway on Nic Jonsson for second as the #40 car closed gradually on the leader.
The #41 Greaves Ligier was in trouble though, Julien Canal pulling off the circuit to retirement.
At the next pitstops Dolan pits from the lead, Harry Tincknell now aboard Mighty #38 to the finish, a long pit stop for Krohn sees Pla out aboard the car but back in 3rd now behind the #32 SMP Racing car of Stefano Coletti.
80 minutes remaining and Tincknell held a 43 second lead over Coletti with Pla a further 6 seconds back.
The #46 meanwhile had attempted to rejoin only to be briefly put back in the garage, it was back on track with 90 minutes remaining after 44 minutes in the pits, Hirakawa at the wheel.
Towards the end of the hour Coletti had a fumble in traffic, Pla now right on his tail, that battle, with ducking, diving, and a little side to side contact went on to and through the end of the hour with Pla eventually grabbing the place to try to close a big gap to his Ford GT team-mate!
At the top of the hour, United Autosport #2 Ligier hit the #66 JMW violently, Mike Guasch losing the car with a stumble on the kerbs into T2 and impacting the side of the slow moving 458 GTE, mercifully the nose of the Ligier scooping up the Ferrari rather than impacting in the drivers door.
This triggered the release of a safety car.
On the restart, top three positions were held by #18 Ligier of Yvan Muller Racing ahead of #3 Ligier of United Autosport and #11 Ligier of Eurointernational. Palmer on #11 lost several positions on lap 84 while revolving in a packed traffic. This episode benefited Simon Gachet in the Ligier #16 of Panis Barthez Competition as the Frenchman stepped up to third position. Patterson in the #3 United Autosports car observed a drive-through penalty after speeding in the pits but kept his second position.
At the top of the hour, Patterson pitted and dropped to third – But United had now burned both of their longer stops.
The hour saw a large number of incidents, gravelly moments and spins for a number of LMP3s including the #6,8,17,11,18,2,4, 24 and 10!
At the top of the hour, the #66 left the pit, clearly still struggling as the team had attempted to patch a cracked gearbox casing, Rob Smith was cruising around back to the pits when he was violently hit in turn 2 by Mike Guasch in the United Autosport #2. This triggered the release of a safety car. On the rester the top three positions were held by #99 Aston Martin Racing ahead of #51 AF Corse Ferrari by less than a a second and #56 AT Racing Ferrari.
On lap 87, the 360 Racing Ligier went off track in turn 2 in front of car #51. The Ferrari stopped on track and lost second place to AF Corse sister car Ferrari #56.
JMW Ferrari #66 finally retired at the top of the third hour. “It is heartbreaking” said Rob Smith. “The gearbox is gone. This championship is no longer in our hands. We had control over this championship throughout the season and we have just lost that control. We keep our fingers crossed”
Their hopes now lie in a major fumble for the Aston Martin crew.