After a morning split by penalties the lead battle came back together after a rapid John Gaw in the Ferrari reeled in Vitus Eckert – the Austrian in his one and only stint for the Jet Alliance team.
The difference in pace between the two was startling Gaw taking as much as 20 seconds from the lead to move the team from almost four laps behind to back on the lead lap and then past the Porsche for the lead.
Then the Ferrari swept around, having passed Eckert and built up a seven second lead in the same lap, it marked the first lead change since 4:30am.
It was a far cry from the “nibbling away at six, seven, eight seconds a lap” that Witt Gamski had described as he timed the gap between the two cars as Gaw began the hunt, living up to the billing of “extremely quick” afforded him by his teammate in a car that has run faultlessly until now – “touch wood” Gamski added.
However, Gaw handed over to Keith Robinson. The stop allowed the Porsche back into the lead put a new driver on the greasy track to try and reel the gap back in – a task Robinson started slowly, taking only five seconds a lap from Eckert.
The Topcat Racing Mosler was briefly elevated to third place when the long time third place car – the No.42 Neil Garner Motorsport – pitted at the end of the hour. The Porsche, however, maintained its class 3 lead over the AMR Jota Sport car the Sam Hancock, Simon Dolan and Chris Porritt combination five laps behind.
The no.44 Welch Motorsport Seat ended the hour in third place having swapped places during a stop cycle with the Tischner and KG Motorsport BMWs.
The bright orange Ginetta continued in its own class, 16 laps ahead of the Saxon Motorsport Honda Civic Type R, the team running in aid of Claire House Children's Hospice. The father and sons Cox family Ford Escort had overcome its own penalty during the hours of darkness to move 20th overall and third in class.
Their progress came after the demise of the no.86 Mazda and the Mardi Gras Integra. The car was dragged back the previous hour became another official retirement, the exact reason unknown, though the team admitted the electrics were at the root of the problem that saw it towed back into the pits. The Mardi Gras car returned to the garage, with the team working on the car and eventually repairing the car to return it to the track, though down the order, all but out of contention for claiming a class podium.
1 No.8 MJC Limited – Ferrari 430 GTC
2 No.1 Topcat Racing – Mosler MT900R GT2
3 No.4 Strata 21 – Mosler MT900R GT2
1 No.22 Jet Alliance – Porsche 997
2 No.21 Topcat Racing – Marcos Mantis GT3
3 No.19 Chesterton Commercial Holdings – Marcos Mantis GT3
1 No.42 Neil Garner Racing – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup
2 No.38 AMR Jota Sport – Aston Martin N24 GT4
3 No.44 Welch Motorsport – Seat Leon Supercopa
1 No.83 Team LNT – Ginetta G40
2 No.81 Saxon Motorsport – Honda Civic Type R
3 No.73 Dave Cox Motorsport – Ford Escort Cosworth