Englishman Derek Warwick survived a bad spin as he kept his defending champion Jaguar XJR-12 prototype in the lead last night after six hours of the 24 Hours of Daytona sports car race in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Warwick, a veteran of Formula One racing, spun the car near the end of the sixth hour, just missing a car at the end of the long back straightaway at Daytona International Speedway.

He was able to continue to the end of his 80-minute shift. He handed over the wheel to teammate Davy Jones, one of last year's winners, with a lead over two European Group C Nissan R90Cs.

Geoff Brabham of Australia, the three-time defending IMSA Camel GTP champion, was driving the second-place car. Steve Millen of New Zealand was at the wheel of the third-place Nissan.

All three had completed 177 laps around the 3.56-mile circuit after six hours.

The Porsche 962C of Rob Dyson, John Paul Jr. and Englishmen James Weaver and Tiff Needell was in fourth, two laps back, followed by the pole-winning Porsche of Frenchman Bob Wollek, German Bernd Schneider and Italians Paolo Barilla and Massimo Sigala.

There were seven different leaders in the first six hours of the race.

A sudden downpour caused some havoc about 90 minutes into the race, with the Mazda RX-7 of Calvin Fish spinning and hitting the wall on the banking of the oval portion of the circuit. No one was injured.