Mike Rockenfeller put Audi on top of the times in the first DTM practice session at Spielberg as several Mercedes drivers, including championship leader Gary Paffett, went off.
Paffett left the road at the entrance to the left-handed Lauda Kurve 25 minutes into the session, understeering off into the gravel and stopping just short of the tire barrier. His HWA Mercedes teammates Ralf Schumacher and Jamie Green had lesser offs at the same corner later in the session; Schumacher taking a high-speed trip through the gravel before rejoining the circuit and Green limiting his excursion to the grass at the corner's exit.
Throughout all of this, Audi cars emerged out front. Mattias Ekstrom was fastest after the opening 45 minutes of running, the Abt driver having lapped in 1m27.724s. Rockenfeller then produced a 1m27.271s lap within the final 10 minutes to put his Phoenix A5 on top.
After failing to reproduce his Hockenheim qualifying form at either of the last two races, Dirk Werner was BMW's best performer in second for Schnitzer, 0.182s slower. Paffett, his car cleared of gravel, climbed to third spot late on.
Abt driver Timo Scheider and the RMG BMW of champion Martin Tomczyk completed the top five, with Filipe Albuquerque and Roberto Merhi next up for the Rosberg Audi and Persson Mercedes squads respectively.
Their teammates, Edoardo Mortara and Susie Wolff, fared less well. Mortara suffered a near-identical off to Paffett's at Lauda while Wolff beached her C-coupe in the gravel at the downhill Schlossgold hairpin.
With those two out of the picture, the top 10 was completed by Ekstrom, his Abt team-mate Adrien Tambay, who himself did well to control a massive slide at the final corner, and Green.
Britain's Andy Priaulx (RBM BMW) was 13th – one place behind Wolff – while David Coulthard (Mucke Mercedes) was 14th. Schnitzer driver Bruno Spengler was only 18th, having had 10 minutes of driving time taken away by race officials for a pitlane infringement during roll-out.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 1m27.271s
2. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 1m27.453s + 0.182s
3. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1m27.475s + 0.204s
4. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m27.480s + 0.209s
5. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 1m27.579s + 0.308s
6. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m27.613s + 0.342s
7. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 1m27.696s + 0.425s
8. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m27.724s + 0.453s
9. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 1m27.758s + 0.487s
10. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m27.761s + 0.490s
11. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 1m27.781s + 0.510s
12. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 1m27.815s + 0.544s
13. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 1m27.851s + 0.580s
14. David Coulthard Persson Mercedes 1m28.000s + 0.729s
15. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m28.022s + 0.751s
16. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 1m28.080s + 0.809s
17. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 1m28.191s + 0.920s
18. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1m28.221s + 0.950s
19. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m28.274s + 1.003s
20. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 1m28.329s + 1.058s
21. Joey Hand RMG BMW 1m28.612s + 1.341s
22. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 1m28.689s + 1.418s