Peugeot held a narrow lead over Audi at the Spa 1000km as the race reached its one-hour mark.
Alex Wurz, who started back in 13th, carved his way through the field early on and passed Andre Lotterer for the lead on lap 20 as his Audi rival was blocked and then hit by a slower LMP2 car at the Fagnes chicane.
With the first round of pit stops complete, Wurz opened up a three second lead over the pole-sitting Audi of Timo Bernhard with Lotterer – who took the lead at the start of the race – in third.
Allan McNish spun the third Audi by himself at Les Combes on the opening lap and fell as low as 16th. He recovered to fourth place, ahead of the Peugeots of Sebastien Bourdais and Franck Montagny, which started 18th and 50th.
The ORECA Peugeot of Loic Duval had been just in behind them, but suffered an engine problem on the hour mark and lost six laps in the pits while repairs were made.
Despite running behind the Nicolas Prost Rebellion Lola and Olivier Pla's ASM Zytek early on, the best of the gasoline-powered cars at the hour mark was Christophe Tinseau's Pescarolo.
Tom Kimber-Smith was comfortably the quickest driver in the LMP2 class and built up a 20s advantage in his Greaves Zytek. Nicolas de Crem lay second in his Boutsen ORECA.
The battle for the lead of the GTE Pro category was debated between two Ferraris, the AF Corse car of Jaime Melo and the similar JMW 458 of Rob Bell. After the duo fought hard, Bell took the lead at the first round of pit stops and pulled out a 10sec advantage.
Melo's AF Corse teammate Giancarlo Fisichella hit Marc Lieb's Felbermayr Porsche at Fanges on the first lap, breaking the German's rear suspension and causing him to spin in the gravel. He was able to drive back to the pits, but lost 15 laps while the car was repaired. There was also bad news for the Lotus Jetalliance as James Rossitter pitted close to the hour mark with smoke pouring out of the back of his Evora.
The GTE Am class was easily led by Nicolas Armindo's IMSA Porsche, but the Frenchman spun into the gravel at Rivage on the hour mark, nudging the tires and dropping down the order. His incident handed the class lead to Phil Quaife's CRS Ferrari while Nicolas Marroc held the advantage in the Formula Le Mans category in his Hope Racing ORECA.