Augusto Farfus took a shock DTM pole position for BMW at Valencia while title contenders Gary Paffett, Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green all failed to make the top 10.
Farfus topped three of the four portions of qualifying in his RBM-run M3, going to the head of the timesheets in the single-lap Q4 in 1m26.446s.
When Adrien Tambay, the only man who could potentially have denied Farfus glory, broke the timing beam in 1m26.789s a minute later and wound up fourth, the Brazilian's maiden DTM pole was confirmed.
Farfus became the first South American driver to take a DTM pole since Johnny Cecotto - also in a BMW - at the Nurburgring 20 years ago.
Edoardo Mortara was second fastest, ahead of his Rosberg Audi team-mate Filipe Albuquerque and Tambay's Abt-run A5. But the Italian is under investigation for cutting a corner earlier in the session and could be penalised.
Mike Rockenfeller was the best of the drivers who failed to make Q4 and will start fifth in his Phoenix Audi. Behind him Britain's Andy Priaulx took the best grid spot of his DTM career in sixth.
Abt duo Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekstrom were next up with Dirk Werner and Miguel Molina completing the top 10.
A disastrous day for Mercedes featured six of its eight C-coupes being eliminated in Q1. Among them was Green's HWA machine, which was knocked out of the Q2 spots thanks to a late flyer from Tomczyk.
Green's championship-leading team-mate Paffett was another to snatch a Q2 spot on his final lap, but could progress no further and will start 16th, four places behind Spengler's Schnitzer BMW.
Mucke driver Robert Wickens was, for the first time, the top Mercedes qualifier in 14th, while Rahel Frey took her best grid spot of the year a place further back in her Abt Audi.
Former grand prix drivers David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher will start 21st and 22nd.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 1m26.446s
2. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m26.756s + 0.310s
3. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m26.894s + 0.448s
4. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 1m26.981s + 0.535s
5. Mike Rockenfeller Abt Audi 1m26.789s Q3
6. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 1m26.824s Q3
7. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m26.849s Q3
8. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m26.936s Q3
9. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 1m27.039s Q3
10. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 1m27.040s Q3
11. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 1m26.813s Q2
12. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1m26.818s Q2
13. Joey Hand RMG BMW 1m26.977s Q2
14. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 1m27.128s Q2
15. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 1m27.260s Q2
16. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1m27.288s Q2
17. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 1m27.377s Q1
18. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m27.380s Q1
19. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 1m27.454s Q1
20. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 1m27.533s Q1
21. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 1m28.012s Q1
22. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m28.090s Q1