Marc Marquez denied his Moto2 title rival Stefan Bradl a home pole position in qualifying at the Sachsenring.
After running outside the top 10 at first, Marquez surged to the front and then held off a late challenge from Bradl with a 1m24.733s lap - 0.129 seconds ahead of the points leader.
Aleix Espargaro (Pons) sat on provisional pole for a spell before ending up third, ahead of Gresini's Michele Pirro.
Julian Simon announced his return after breaking his leg at Catalunya with a superb fifth place on the grid on the Aspar Suter. Home rider Max Neukirchner looked set to fight for pole for a while for MZ, before sliding to 11th as others improved. Practice pacesetter Yuki Takahashi crashed early and had to miss most of the session, leaving him 13th.
Other incidents included a massive crash for Jules Cluzel, who immediately got up but required assistance from the marshals while in the gravel, and a late fall for Bradley Smith. The Briton had managed to keep upright through a wild gravel trip early in the session, but was not so successful when he went off again on his final lap.