Stephen Errity, GT Correspondent
Action at the Spa 24 Hours was brought to a temporary halt after approximately two and half hours of racing as torrential rain hit the Belgian circuit, sending several cars aquaplaning into the barriers around the track.
Worst affected was the #60 Von Ryan Racing McLaren MP4-12C, with Julien Draper at the wheel, which smacked the barriers side-on at the end of the start-finish straight. Another casualty was #37 DB Motorsport BMW Z4 driven by Andrew Danyliw, which hit the wall alongside the pits. Several other cars had slow spins as they braked for the La Source hairpin, but continued undamaged.
Before the rain and the safety car intervened, Uwe Alzen's charge in the Haribo Racing Porsche had faltered as he lost positions to both Eric van de Poele's Boutsen-Ginion McLaren and Edward Sandstron's Team WRT Audi.
Elsewhere, the Marc VDS BMW of Maxime Martin emerged from the first round of pitstops with a 30-second lead, but second-place Frank Kechele in the Vita4One BMW had almost eliminated that gap by the time the rain started and he'd handed the car over to co-driver Greg Franchi. Marc VDS' second stop, meanwhile, saw Bas Leinders take over the Z4 from Martin.
Behind the safety car, and with almost three hours' running completed, Leinders led from Stephane Ortelli in the #1 Team WRT Audi R8 and Rene Rast in the #16 Team Phoenix Audi. Jeffrey van Hooydonck in the Pro class DB Motorsport BMW was fourth, while veteran Belgian Marc Goossens sat fifth in the Prospeed Competition Porsche.
The #8 Team Haribo Porsche and #5 Boutsen-Ginion McLaren were sixth and seventh respectively, while Alessandro Per Guidi was somewhat out of place in eighth, at the wheel of the Pro-Am class #52 AF Corse Ferrari 458. Laurens Vanthoor and Jack Gerber (WRT Audi and AF Corse Ferrari) rounded out the top 10 as they continued to circulate at a reduced pace and the rain kept coming.