Midway through the race the AF Corse-run 488 GTEs lie in second position in LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes.
First hour. After race authorities reinstated the #92 Porsche with the LMGTE Pro class pole position, having previously annulled the car’s fastest qualifying time several hours after the session, the race-start got underway with Gerard Neveu and Fiona Miller giving the green flag, who leave the FIA WEC after many years.
The start witnessed Rigon grab an excellent opportunity at the first turn but Bruni’s Porsche, who he had pulled up alongside while taking advantage of a wider trajectory, made slight contact, damaged the #71 which was subsequently passed by Maxime Martin’s Aston. This episode aside, the cars made it through the first lap relatively unscathed, although in the opening stages Grimes was to spin off after making contact with Perfetti, a fact race stewards decide to overlook. The Red River Sport driver quickly battled his way back into the pack and, capitalizing on his faster pace, overtook Perrodo, Al Qubaisi and then Ried in the thirteenth lap. Even Perrodo, while struggling to maintain the pace, was able to pass Al Qubaisi to take ninth position. The LMGTE Am class, however, was stealing the limelight on the track. The tussle between Yoluc and Perfetti allowed Flohr to catch the pair shortly before the pitstops. Calado, who had kept a cool head fending off attacks from Bruni during his stint, made his stop on the twenty-ninth lap handing over to Serra, while Rigon took the cue from his team-mate to swap for Molina a lap later. Both Ferraris refuelled and changed all four tyres.
Second hour. With the pitstops out of the way, the situation began to stabilize, with the Ferrari crews occupying fifth and sixth position respectively in the LMGTE Pro class, with Serra and Molina, whilst in Am class Fisichella holding sixth, Noble seventh and Collard ninth. Fisichella and Collard were both registering quicker times than the gentlemen who had remained behind the wheel of the other cars, although the French driver whose repeated excursions over the track limits saw him summoned in for a drive-through. Fisichella, elsewhere, swiftly moved into second spot thanks to some spectacular overtaking which further confirmed – although hardly necessary – his class. Among the Pros, Daniel Serra got involved in a lengthy scrap with Westbrook who came out on top thanks to a passing manoeuvre made on the fiftieth lap. Molina, behind the two, came close to pulling off the same move but after slight contact was made between the two cars, the Aston Martin managed to defend the position.
Third hour. With darkness approaching, the low sun on the horizon caused the drivers a fair share of visibility problems but the standings underwent few major shocks until a few minutes before the third hour of competition when a Full Course Yellow phase, needed to remove debris from the track, reshuffled the order. The Ferraris made a dash to enter the pits, coming back out in second position for Calado and fifth for Rigon. In Am class, all the cars stopped and changed drivers during the FCY phase between laps 86 and 87. The #54 488 GTE of AF Corse, now with Flohr at the wheel, held second position behind #98 Aston Martin, while Perrodo and Noble occupied eighth and ninth respectively.
Fourth hour. Calado was turning out decidedly quick times which allowed him to narrow the gap from Christensen’s Porsche at the head of the race to under five seconds, while Rigon defended his fifth position from the attacks of Thiim without being able to replicate the time of his team-mate. In Am class, Flohr was second between the two Aston Martins of Dalla Lana and Eastwood, leader of the standings. One lap behind the leader, however, the two Ferraris of Noble and Perrodo had slipped to eighth and ninth position. At the stroke of the fourth hour, signalling the halfway point of the race, the Ferrari pits were back in action with Fisichella replacing Flohr and Daniel Serra swapping for Calado.