Mattias Ekstrom set the pace in the opening free practice session for this weekend's DTM race at the Norisring.
The Abt Audi driver's 49.893-second lap came in the first half of the 90-minute session and was 0.165sec clear of the chasing field – a massive margin by the standards of this year's DTM and at one of its shortest circuits, too.
Ralf Schumacher, the polesitter here two years ago, was surprisingly his closest challenger. The HWA Mercedes driver had the fastest lap in the second half of the session, but with the times set in the first half generally being quicker across the board, 50.058s was the best he could achieve overall.
Bruno Spengler made it three different manufacturers in the top three places in his Schnitzer BMW while championship leader Gary Paffett was fourth for HWA. Dirk Werner put a second Schnitzer cars inside the top five as Ekstrom's team-mate Timo Scheider completed the top six.
Miguel Molina was seventh quickest in his Phoenix Audi, but caused the session's only red flag and a lengthy delay when he whacked the wall on the exit of the Scholler S and stopped on-track with the resultant damage to his car.
Jamie Green, who was visibly the most committed driver on entry to the final corner, was eighth for HWA with champion Martin Tomcyk (RMG BMW) and Christian Vietoris (HWA Mercedes) completing the top 10.
Less than 0.7sec covered the field while the margin between second-placed Schumacher and David Coulthard in 14th was less than 0.2s.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 49.893s
2. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 50.058s + 0.165s
3. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 50.085s + 0.192s
4. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 50.087s + 0.194s
5. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 50.107s + 0.214s
6. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 50.131s + 0.238s
7. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 50.170s + 0.277s
8. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 50.171s + 0.278s
9. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 50.208s + 0.315s
10. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 50.211s + 0.318s
11. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 50.212s + 0.319s
12. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 50.250s + 0.357s
13. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 50.255s + 0.362s
14. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 50.259s + 0.366s
15. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 50.297s + 0.404s
16. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 50.304s + 0.411s
17. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 50.319s + 0.426s
18. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 50.415s + 0.522s
19. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 50.476s + 0.583s
20. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 50.521s + 0.628s
21. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 50.566s + 0.673s
22. Joey Hand RMG BMW 50.569s + 0.676s