Now out of contention, the #8 Bentley was wheeled back into its garage. The previous race leader changed a front right puncture, suspected to have been a result of the earlier steering issue and indicative of further mechanical damage, but was in fact debris from the accident lodged in the arch that had rubbed on the wheel.
After nearly 90 minutes of red flag conditions the restart commenced behind the safety car, seven minutes into the second half of the 24 hours. The window for a brake change now open, an opportunity existed to gain an advantage. The clock still running during the red flag, driver stint times had been exhausted and fuel top ups were needed, but no immediate brake services were taken. Philipp Eng and Yelmer Buurman led the field back to full speed, Eng taking the advantage of his pursuants’ traffic conditions to extend a gap of twelve seconds.
Daniel Juncadella’s Mercedes was jumped in traffic by Frederic Vervisch’s #25 Audi for third, the Team Sainteloc car the best of the Audi entries, which had otherwise faded.
Tenth placed Kelvin van der Linde set the fastest lap of the race in the #29 Land-Motorsport Audi: 2:19.782 in his pursuit of lost track position. Jules Gounon’s Bentley was passed by Nicky Catsburg’s BMW on the road, but the timing screens showed the #7 car dropping down outside the top ten. A telemetry issue or a timing adjustment, the #7 car then reassumed in fourth (!).
Catsburg’s progress made short work of Juncadella’s Mercedes for fifth, the #88 car then falling into the clutches of Laurens Vanthoor’s KUS Team75 Bernhard Porsche, which took the place into Les Combes but then spun on debris at the hairpin.
At the close of Hour 13 and first light, Eng’s overall advantage was a solid 23 seconds over Buurman as the leaders considered their next round of stops.
Strakka still held the lead in Pro-Am, David Fumanelli 17th overall and a lap ahead of the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari.
The #77 Barwell Motorsport Mercedes maintained its strong advantage at the head of the Am standings.
Akka ASP’s challenging week took another knock as their #90 Mercedes was punted into the barriers under braking for Les Combes, bringing out a further FCY as driver Jules Symkowiak was helped away from the car by marshals. This heavy impact under scrutiny by the stewards, the majority of the field dived to the pits as 40 minutes of barrier repairs got underway and the now fourth placed #2 Audi’s team manager was summoned to Race Control.
At 06:45 the Safety Car was finally ordered in; barriers fixed, though huge amounts of debris were still visible around the circuit. The yellow periods had disrupted the mandatory brake service window, the number of green flag laps somewhat limited and just 30 minutes remaining.
The #99 Rowe Racing BMW was on a mission, improving from 9th to 6th in the hands of Alexander Sims, as Jules Gounon tried to get in touch with leader Christian Krognes’s BMW M3 GT3. Gounon would soon record the fastest race lap, a 2:19.672 as the Bentley slowly reeled in the Walkenhorst car.
The National Class leading #67 GDL Racing Lamborghini was seen limping back to the pits with left front wheel damage as Dominik Baumann’s #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin returned home with a right rear puncture.
Sheldon Van der Linde installed, the #29 Land Motorsport car was now the best of the Audis, making great progress through the order to sit fourth, 24 seconds adrift of the very sturdy looking #23 Nissan GTR in third.