At the turn of the hour, Peugeot called in Christian Klien for a precautionary nose change in the #7 908, but no such dramas afflicted teammate Marc Gene in the #9 car.
Gene now leads from the #8 908, driven by a charging Sebastien Bourdais, after Allan McNish had to pull his second-placed Audi into the garage.
McNish ended his quadruple stint, handing over to Rinaldo Capello, and in what may prove to be a turning point in the race the Audi squad backed the R15 into the garage to clean its radiators. Capello rejoined in third place.
"We're missing a bit of the extra knowledge of the car on the track," said McNish. "And without the test day I think we needed to do that learning on Wednesday night, but it was wet.
"The car is working much better now. At the beginning of the race we were just hanging on. Now the car has more front end grip and you can attack with it."
The #7 Peugeot subsequently required another garage visit to clear its radiator ducting, but there is no indication yet as to whether its sister cars will have to undergo a similar process.
Kolles Audi's Christian Bakkerud tagged the #66 Jetalliance Racing Aston Martin DBR9 into the gravel but the GT1 car was able to rejoin after a long stop to clean gravel detritus from its extremities.
The ailing #6 LNT Ginetta-Zytek finally expired when Nigel Moore was at the wheel, halting with low fuel pressure and then setting itself on fire.
Team Essex remains at the head of the GT2 field. Caspar Elgaard has a three-lap advantage over Seiji Ara in the Navi Team Goh Porsche Spyder RS, with Jonny Kane five laps further behind in the #33 Speedy Racing Sebah Lola.
The works Corvettes circulate in 1-2 formation, now just 1m06s apart after their last pitstops. Johnny O'Connell is back behind the wheel of the leading #63 car.
Mika Salo is in command of GT2 in the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari, steering clear of marauding prototypes and almost a complete lap ahead of the second-placed #92 Ferrari. Fabio Babini is now third in class for BMW Scuderia Italia having overhauled Patrick Long's Porsche.
Just before the turn of the hour, the Pescarolo squad brought in its Peugeot 908, and after an initial inspection of its ducting it was brought into the garage for a nose change with smoke billowing from the front-left wheel-arch.