Edoardo Mortara took his first DTM pole position with a brilliant lap at Spielberg.
The 25-year-old Italian was the third driver to set a time in the single-lap Q4 part of qualifying and the Rosberg Audi driver took provisional pole in 1m26.171s to put him 0.121sec clear of championship leader Gary Paffett's HWA Mercedes.
When Q3 pacesetter Mattias Ekstrom then went out for his Q4 lap, the Swede lost time in both the second and third sectors and wound up third to guarantee pole for Mortara ahead of what will be only his 14th start in the series.
Martin Tomczyk completed the second row alongside Ekstrom's Abt Audi. Despite having fresher tyres than all his Q4 rivals, the defending champion made a mistake at Turn 1, bouncing over the Ludwig curb at the corner's exit and launching his RMG-run BMW a foot into the air. Fourth still marked his best qualifying spot since joining BMW for 2012.
Tomczyk's teammate Joey Hand, who was knocked out of a Q4 spot by Mortara right at the end of Q3, qualified a career-best fifth, ahead of fellow BMW man Bruno Spengler and Jamie Green in the second HWA Mercedes.
Schnitzer driver Spengler had only scraped into Q3 in the first place, his final lap of Q2 promoting him from 16th to 10th. August Farfus set an identical time in his RBM-run M3, but was classified behind as he had completed the lap a few seconds later.
Filipe Albuquerque qualified eighth to make it two Rosberg cars in the top 10 for the first time in 2012. Dirk Werner (Schnitzer) and Ralf Schumacher (HWA) completed the top 10, the grand prix winner taking his best grid spot of the year.
Phoenix Audi team-mates Miguel Molina and Mike Rockenfeller were only 12th and 13th - the latter ending a five-race run of qualifying inside the top five despite lapping less than 0.5sec off the pace. Two-time series champion Timo Scheider's troubled season continued as the Abt driver qualified 16th.
There were no major surprises in Q1, Tomczyk averting a potential crisis by setting two times easily good enough for the top six in the final few minutes. Among those eliminated early were Andy Priaulx; 18th in his RBM BMW, and David Coulthard; 22nd and last in his Mucke Mercedes.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m26.171s
2. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1m26.292s + 0.121s
3. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m26.319s + 0.148s
4. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 1m26.408s + 0.237s
5. Joey Hand RMG BMW 1m25.927s Q3
6. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1m25.963s Q3
7. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m26.022s Q3
8. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m26.294s Q3
9. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 1m26.309s Q3
10. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m26.340s Q3
11. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 1m26.068s Q2
12. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 1m26.251s Q2
13. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 1m26.274s Q2
14. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 1m26.320s Q2
15. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 1m26.449s Q2
16. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m26.519s Q2
17. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 1m26.605s Q1
18. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 1m26.620s Q1
19. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 1m26.725s Q1
20. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 1m26.914s Q1
21. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 1m27.057s Q1
22. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 1m27.117s Q1