Chaz Mostert produced a stunning opening stint as BMW Team Schnitzer dominated the opening three hours of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The Supercars star set a blistering pace from the start opening up a 41.8 second lead before taking his first stop after 75 minutes.
Mostert, who started from pole, stayed behind the wheel for another run before handing the car over to team-mate Marco Wittmann, who currently holds the effective lead.
The Objective Racing McLaren of Tim Slade leads outright but is off sequence on pit stops.
The period was punctuated by four Safety Car periods with the first arriving on the warm-up lap when Jon Goodacre spun the #96 MARC entry.
Racing resumed after 17 minutes allowing Mostert to surge into a commanding lead with the #74 Audi of Christopher Haase chasing the Australia.
Luke Youlden in the Buik Motorworks Lamborghini climbed to third during an impressive run, which was halted after contact with the Class B #40 Porsche of Aaron Zerefos.
The car suffered significant suspension damage but retrained to the pits for repair utilising parts from a spare car.
“I thought he was going to give me room but it looks like he continued his normal line and didn’t respect that I was there,” said Youlden.
“I tell you what, there was some ordinary driving out there.”
Mostert continued to set a brisk pace dipping into the 2:01s bracket but his progress was paused when the race was stopped for the second time.
David Crampton found the wall on the run to Forrest’s Elbow in the #48 M Motorsport causing extensive damage to his car.
Andrew Bagnall driving the #82 found the wall hard at McPhillamy and is due to be flown to hospital for assessment.
The #9 car driven by Marc Cini was turned into a spin by the #67 MARC entry of Morgan Haber as he tried to avoid the incident.
It took 37 minutes for Bagnall to be extricated and the incident to be cleared before racing continued.
Mostert rebuilt his lead only for it to be slated agin by a fourth Safety Car when the Class C BMW M4 GT4 lost a wheel after an impact at Forrest’s Elbow.
This triggered a second round of stops resulting in Wittmann taking over the lead Schnitzer BMW from Mostert.
After the first quarter of the race, Slade leads Wittmann, Steven Richards (#100 BMW), who benefited from a stunning drive from Timo Glock from the back of the grid.
The #74 Audi sits fourth with Christopher Mies at the wheel ahead of the #22 Audi of Kelvin van de Linde after taking over from Frederic Vervisch.
Craft Bamboo Racing (#991) was among the cars that made strides as Laurens Vanthoor climbed into the top 10.
Class B is led by #85 Porsche, Class C is headed by #30 BMW GT4 and the Invitational Class is topped by #91 MARC entry.