At the half way mark in the Total 6 Hours of Spa, the #8 Toyota still holds a solid lead, though over the #7 Toyota TS050, which is now up to second after starting a lap down, rather than the Rebellion Racing R-13s that now sit third and fourth after running second and third for most of the opening three hours.
Fernando Alonso took the #8 car out for his WEC debut during this phase of the race and drove a consistent stint to hold the lead and draw out a minute and a half over the Rebellions before jumping out of the car just before the half way mark.
There was a little unwanted drama for the new driver – Kazuki Nakajima who had to return to the pits on lap 74 to fix a seatbelt issue. The extra stop cost the team 48 seconds but they maintained the lead. Further time was lost with a spin at the Bus Stop.
The sister Toyota meanwhile, unlapped itself after 1:40 of running, helped by a series of safety cars and yellow flag periods. At the half way mark, Kobayashi battled past the Rebellions to take second and make it a Toyota 1-2. Neel Jani in the #1 tried to fight back but did not have the pace to fend off the Toyota challenge, which then crusied past the #3 of Mathias Beche shortly after.
For the Rebellions, the two cars are now running line astern with the #1 of Neel Jani showing the way to the sister machine of Beche after Jani followed Kobayashi through into second.
The SMP team continued to lap consistently after Stéphane Sarrazin drove the car from the back of the grid to fourth. They lost time due a drive-through caused by speeding in the pits with Egor Orudzehv driving, while running fourth ahead of the hard-charging #7 Toyota. The #17 is now fifth in class with the #11 of Mikhail Aleshin in eighth, three laps down.
The ByKolles ENSO CLM is also off the lead lap, after it lost time during a safety car period and found itself a lap down, dropping from the fight for fourth to sixth in class at the half way point.
In LMP2, The Jackie Chan Racing entry with Weiron Tan behind the wheel had led for a short time before giving up the lead to the G-Drive Oreca of Jean-Eric Vergne who is leading at the half way point.
Vergne had driven a faultless stint, extending his lead throughout.
Behind, and after early trouble, the Signatech Alpine A470 is now up to second, and just 50 seconds off the lead after Andre Negrao fought his way past the two JCDC ORECAs that now sit third and fourth in class, the #37 Malaysian trio ahead of the sister #38 entry.
DragonSpeed were having a good run but were given a drive-through for speeding in the pits, losing the team vital time. The #31 is now down to fifth.
The leader after the first hour meanwhile, the Racing Team Nederland squad, were forced to pit with alternator problems after 90 minutes. The 14-minute pitstop effectively ended their run for victory. They sit last in class after three hours.
In GTE Pro, Porsche and Ford continued their dominance of the class by holding on to each of the top three spots throughout the second and third hours.
Gianmaria Bruni in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR GTE is currently leading the class over the #66 Ford GT, now the only Ford GT remaining after Harry Tincknell’s shunt. Driving that car is American Billy Johnson, here with the team this weekend in preparation for Le Mans.
Third in class is the second Porsche, the #92 Porsche 911 RSR GTE piloted at this moment by Michael Christensen, he currently holds onto a seven second lead on the fourth placed car, the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo driven by James Calado.
Notable in GTE Pro is the #81 BMW M8 GTE which has fallen to the bottom of the class with Martin Tomczyk at the helm, that car, and the pair of Aston Martin Vantage AMRs are one lap behind the leaders in class. It’s been a tough weekend for all three entries.
In GTE Am Pedro Lamy and the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE now holds a 52 second lead over the second placed car in the class, which is the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
The #90 is currently being driven by Salih Yoluc who holds onto an extremely comfortable lead of one minute-forty seconds over the third placed #70 MR Racing Ferrari 488 GTE in their debut race in the WEC.
Both of those cars have benefited from the misfortune of class’ Porsche 911 RSR GTEs with the Project 1, both Dempsey-Proton cars and the Gulf Racing UK car having trouble in the first half of the race.
Most notably, Proton’s cars both hit trouble within a few minutes of each other, the #77 suffering a suspected throttle issue while battling the TF Sport car which at the time was for the lead with two hours completed. Julien Andlauer pitted the car for repairs, and as the mechanics began working on it, the #88 went off backwards into the tyres at Pouhon, Giorgio Roda losing control of the rear.
Neither car is back in the race, but are fifth and seventh respectively.