As the first half of the race was dominated by the battle for the lead between Manthey Racing and Marc VDS Racing it is now the HTP Motorsport Mercedes fighting with the Porsche for the lead.
The two teams swapped the lead during the three hours up to 10:30am local time and the two-thirds distance of the race. Pitting on different schedules – lately because of the split strategy under the most recent safety car of the race – the Mercedes visited the pitlane with a little over seven hour remaining, giving up the lead to the Porsche – but only just.
Maximilian Buhk made short work of the handful of seconds he trailed Patrick Pilet to retake the lead, his advantage cemented once Pilet made his own pitstop.
The pattern, in part was repeated as the clock reached 10:30. Gotz took over the Mercedes in a scheduled pitstop and returned to the track just 10 seconds behind the Porsche. He quickly made up the gap and was clambering all over the rear of the Porsche as the second ticked down to leave six hours of the race to go.
A duel for the lead was not the only familiar theme reprised in this part of the race with ominously dark clouds wandering overhead, though never dropping nearly enough rain to make and impact on the race.
The #50 AF Corse Ferrari led the Pro-Am Cup for a time but was pushed out of the by a drive through penalty for not respecting track limits – one of several teams to be warned or worse as the daylight brought a return to the stewards enforcing of them.
The #50 ended the hour in third, their teammates – the #59 entry leading the class, though with Alessandro Pier Guidi closing in in the best of the SMP Racing Ferraris.
The Gentlemens’ Trophy class remains in the same order it has been for several hours with Ferraris first second and third for SOFREV ASP, Sport Garage and Kessel Racing each two laps of the 7km Spa circuit apart.
2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa class standings after 18 hours:
1 – #150 Manthey Racing – Lieb/Lietz/Pilet
2 – #84 HTP Motorsport – Buhk/Gotz/Schnieder
3 – #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT – Lotterer/Mies/Stippler
1 – #59 AF Corse – Cameron/Griffin/Mortimer/Vilander
2 – #70 SMP Racing – Bobbi/Basov/Pier Guidi/Skryabin
3 – #50 AF Corse – Bertolini/Cioci/Hommerson/Machiels
1 – #20 – SOFREV ASP – Beaubelique/Blanchemain/Bouvy/Gouselard
2 – #52 – Sport Garage – Gorini/Lemeret/Prignaud
3 – #111 – Kessel Racing – Andreasi/Ciro/Paladino/Perez