Race leader Mike Rockenfeller suffered a tyre scare during a dramatic phase of the enduro in which the charging Peugeot 908 driven by Alex Wurz got on to the lead lap before expiring in a plume of smoke.
Rockenfeller's #9 Audi R15 Plus was suffering vibrations at the time, and the retirement of the Peugeot enabled the Audi team to break from its plan and bring him in early.
"We pitted before the schedule, two or three laps early, because I had a bad vibration and we wanted to check it,"he told AUTOSPORT. "When we changed the wheels we found that one of the tyres had turned on the rim, so everything is okay now. It's just one of those things that can happen to anyone.
"The difference in speed between us and the Peugeots on the straight is unbelievable. It flew straight past. There was nothing I could do.
"Then I saw smoke coming out of it. I don't know what I felt. When you're out there you really just have to concentrate on what you're doing and not be distracted by anything else, or by what anyone else is doing.
"What we have to do now is run at our own pace for the rest of the race and hope that the car stays together."
Subscribe to Autosport Plus
Register for free