Mattias Ekstrom snatched pole position from Gary Paffett by less than one tenth of a second in qualifying for the DTM finale at Hockenheim. The Audi driver, who was the last to run in the four-way pole shootout, beat his Mercedes rival by just 0.066sec, while championship leader Timo Scheider took third, just 0.088sec off pole.
Ekstrom was the dominant force throughout qualifying, topping three of the four segments. In Q3, where only the top four progress, he was so strong that he was the only car that didn't opt to complete a second run, and he was still fastest despite the seven other drivers having another crack at his time. But it was a closer affair in Q4, with Paffett and Scheider setting strong sector times that Ekstrom was only marginally quicker than by the end of the lap.
Paffett will have some help towards the front of the grid as his HWA team-mate Paul di Resta took fourth, having just edged Tom Kristensen in Q3 to make the top four.
There was a scare for the 2005 champion during qualifying though, as he was placed under investigation by the stewards after his team released him into the pitlane directly in front of Scheider in Q2.
Behind Kristensen, Oliver Jarvis put in another impressive performance in his 2008 Audi to take sixth, just ahead of the 2009 A4 of Martin Tomczyk.
Maro Engel was the top 2008 Mercedes in eighth, while Jamie Green was bumped out of the top eight in the dying seconds of Q2, and he will line up just ahead of Mike Rockenfeller on the fifth row.
The major casualty of qualifying was Bruno Spengler, who thought he was safe as he sat in the garage in the closing stages of Q1, but ended up being bumped down to 15th as several drivers improved in the last minute.