After the race resumed on lap 6 after a long safety car spell, Thomas Preining and David Schumacher were battling for position when they made contact before braking for Turn 8, their cars cornering into the barriers at high speed before bouncing down the track.
This created a bottleneck and led to Dennis Olsen losing control of his Porsche SSR – apparently through contact – sending him straight into the barrier on the other side of the track.
The intensity of the impact was such that several engine compliments were thrown from his car, which immediately burst into flames in a frightening moment for the Norwegian.
Title contender Preining’s Bernhard Porsche team and Schumacher’s Winward Mercedes also suffered heavy damage during the pile-up.
All the drivers were able to escape from their cars, but some were sent to the medical center for checks.
The race was immediately red flagged with all cars returning to the pit lane. Racing finally resumed at 2:25 p.m. after a lap behind the safety car, with the Indy-style restart format scrapped as a precaution.
Ahead of the chaos at Turn 6, several cars were involved in an incident earlier in the lap which was sparked by Philipp Eng and Nico Muller battling into the first right-hand corner.
The aftermath of their incident took several drivers by surprise, including Grasser Racing Lamborghini duo Clemens Schmid and Rolf Ineichen, the latter then scoring Mariuz Zug’s Attempto Audi as they both crashed into the wall.
There were more incidents earlier on the first lap, which brought out the safety car and led to a messy restart that left at least a third of the grid with end-of-race damage.
Arjun Maini’s Mercedes HRT suffered heavy damage after a spin possibly caused by the contact of Maro Engel’s GruppeM AMG GT3, while Kelvin van der Linde’s Audi lost a tire dangerously during an a separate incident on the same
Lucas Auer should lead the race when the race finally resumes, as Marco Wittmann’s move on the Mercedes Winward on the restart should not be counted in the middle of the red flag.
Rene Rast will line up third in the Abt Audi after a brilliant first-start jaunt, with Mirko Bortolotti slipping to fifth in the Grasser Lamborghini and points leader Sheldon van der Linde starting eighth after recovering from a a penalty that left him 16th on the grid.
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