The factory-run Beachdean AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage led the majority of the first 60 minutes of the Spa 24 Hours.
Stefan Mucke converted pole position into the lead of the race, holding off a challenge from fellow front-row starter Alessandro Pierguidi in the best of the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italias.
Pierguidi tried to hang it around the outside of the Aston through Eau Rouge. He spun and was somehow avoided by the rest of the field.
Mucke, who shares the Beachdean AMR entry with car owner Andrew Howard, Jonny Adam and Daniel McKenzie, found himself with an immediate two-second lead courtesy of Pierguidi’s antics, but Nicky Catsburg in the best of the Marc VDS BMW Z4s quickly closed him down. The two cars battled hard either side of a safety-car period triggered when Alex Buncombe crashed heavily at Eau Rouge when his RJN Nissan GT-R suffered apparent suspension failure.
Mucke held off two forceful bids from Catsburg at Les Combes in the closing stages of the opening stint, before peeling off into the pits just before the one-hour mark. That made the BMW Catsburg shares with Markus Palttala and Henri Moser the leader on the one-hour mark from Alvaro Parente in the Hexis McLaren MP4-12C.
Marc Lieb was third in the solo Manthey Porsche 911 GT3-R and Bertrand Baguette fourth in the GPR AMR Aston. The best-placed Audi R8 LMS ultra was the fastest of the WRT team’s flotilla of four cars in sixth place.
The lead quickly changed after the first pit stop sequence was complete just after the one-hour mark, with Maximilian Gotz moving the HTP Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG ahead courtesy of an early pit stop during the safety-car period.
Mucke, who remained at the wheel of the Aston, resumed in ninth place after a problem with the right-rear wheelnut.