Kevin Tse led the race by about a minute at the halfway point, but the Craft-Bamboo Mercedes driver was clearly at a disadvantage ahead of Jules Gounon in second place #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes.
The Frenchman took less than 20 minutes to cut the gap to just seven seconds, only to have his charge stalled when the safety car was called for the sixth time.
Tony Bates’ tire failure was warned at the 24th Melbourne Performance Center as the R8 spins backwards into the wall at Forrest’s Elbow. He was fourth at the time.
Tse and Gounon both dived straight into the lane, delivering Maro Engel and Martin Konrad respectively.
The opposite of this is the Pro vs. Am equation in favor of Craft-Bamboo.
Meanwhile, Triple Eight chose to complete a brake pad change while the race was neutralized by the safety car, and Shane van Gisbergen resumed third place.
The #777 MPC Audi ended up rounding down as part of a series of stops and didn’t get it back as part of a lucky dog wave before the race went green, as the car was on the front lap when the safety car was called.
This means that Yasser Shaheen slipped from fourth to fifth behind his teammate Brad Schumacher in the number 74 Audi, who was the last driver on the first lap.
The race went into the green at 6h40m, and Engel sprinted for five seconds on the road as Van Giesbergen found his way past Conrad and Saheen’s lapped car.
Behind the pros, there was a battle between drivers Am Konrad and Schumacher, with the latter taking third place over the former at Murray’s Corner shortly before seven hours.
Schumacher satiated his driver’s time at 7h18pm, at which point Kelvin van der Linde took command of the #74 R8.
With time, Engel was able to consolidate his lead over van Giesbergen to about 13 seconds before handing Van Giesbergen to Prince Geoffrey Ibrahim at 7:30 PM.
Engel Laps later responded to deliver the car to Tse as each of the Mercedes key crews were looking to satisfy their driver’s time.
That played for Van der Linde, with the South African chasing the two from behind by about 30 seconds.
SunEnergy1 Racing built its driver Am’s time at 7h40m, and Luca Stolz took charge from Konrad in the #75 Mercedes.
At that point Abraham and Tse started squabbling over the lead, and Tse dipped under the T8 at The Chase to grab the lead.
Van der Linde followed Zi through, before taking the lead in the straight mountain race at the start of the next lap.
Not long after the eight-hour mark, the #777 was taken out of contention when a failed tire wound up wrapped around the rear suspension, sending the car down four laps.
He put in front of Van der Linde on a great job to go off the field in the best part of a minute, and even put Mercedes #888 on a super fast lap.
However, race #74 ended almost completely as van der Linde stalled at the 8h20m mark when the team was told they had to take a two-minute penalty to exceed the driver’s time limit.
Schumacher was in the car for 88 minutes, eight minutes more than allowed in a single task, to net the penalty.
The car still had a forced two-minute stop to serve as well, as a double whammy pushed the car down as Nathanael Berthon jumped behind the wheel.
There was another development five minutes later when the #45 RAM Motorsport Mercedes crashed out of the race to ignite a seventh safety car.
It was supposed to see the #74 Audi get its knee back on the lucky dog rule, but the light rain prompted officials to choose not to allow the cars to disengage themselves before restarting.
That left only three cars on the first lap when the race turned green again at the 8h55m mark, led by Stolz Juncadella, who replaced Tse in a Craft-Bamboo, and Broc Feeney in the #888 Mercedes.
The trio were running in that order as the race crossed the nine-hour mark.
Watch the race live for free on Motorsport.tv (Not available to viewers in Australia and New Zealand).