Timo Scheider came through a rain-affected DTM qualifying session to take pole position at Hockenheim, while championship leader Bruno Spengler could only manage 11th.
Abt Audi's Scheider, who was mathematically ruled out of the title race when he suffered a puncture last time out at Oschersleben, put in a clean lap running first in Q4. He then watched on as Gary Paffett and the two Phoenix Audis of Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller all failed to beat his time.
Rockenfeller, who ran last in Q4 after setting the pace in Q3, put in a lap good enough to get himself onto the front row for the first time in more than two years.
Paffett comfortably took third thanks to a messy lap from Premat, and the British driver has a good chance of making up ground in the title race as he will start ahead of his HWA-Mercedes team-mates Paul di Resta and Bruno Spengler.
Di Resta had to settle for fifth after Paffett bumped him out of Q3. The Scot was on course to then go fastest with his final lap, but his time fell away during the third sector.
It was not a bad day for di Resta, though, as Spengler was the major casualty in a nail-biting Q2 session where conditions were improving. At one point in the final minute both of the main title contenders were in the drop zone, but di Resta scrambled through with his last lap of the session.
The fourth man who can still mathematically win the title, Audi's Mattias Ekstrom, did not even get out of Q1 and will start 15th. The Swede's first lap of the session was poor, so he pitted for another set of wet tires. He appeared to have done enough with his final lap to just make it into Q2, but he was bumped out by David Coulthard as the checkered flag fell.
Pos Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
1. Timo Scheider Audi 1m39.997s 1m38.686s 1m38.107s 1m37.399s
2. Mike Rockenfeller Audi 1m39.490s 1m38.806s 1m38.005s 1m37.856s
3. Gary Paffett Mercedes 1m39.675s 1m38.807s 1m38.084s 1m37.982s
4. Alexandre Premat Audi 1m40.047s 1m39.084s 1m38.049s 1m40.202s
5. Paul di Resta Mercedes 1m40.040s 1m39.115s 1m38.179s
6. Martin Tomczyk** Audi 1m40.605s 1m39.212s 1m38.263s
7. Markus Winkelhock Audi 1m40.373s 1m39.188s 1m38.484s
8. Miguel Molina Audi 1m40.813s 1m38.728s 1m38.804s
9. Oliver Jarvis Audi 1m40.924s 1m39.286s
10. Jamie Green Mercedes 1m40.628s 1m39.432s
11. Bruno Spengler Mercedes 1m40.850s 1m39.987s
12. Maro Engel Mercedes 1m40.981s 1m40.088s
13. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes 1m41.053s 1m40.567s
14. David Coulthard Mercedes 1m41.253s 1m40.780s
15. Mattias Ekstrom Audi 1m41.725s
16. Katherine Legge Audi 1m41.740s
17. Susie Stoddart Mercedes 1m42.330s
18. Cong Fu Cheng Mercedes 1m42.847s
** Will take five-place penalty