Timo Scheider took Audi's second DTM win of the season at a damp Adria from 15th on the grid, while Bruno Spengler took the championship lead back from Mercedes teammate Paul di Resta in an incident-packed race.
Scheider made up a lot of places on the first lap, and then set a blistering pace when the leaders pitted. The reigning champion made his first stop with just seven laps to go, and his second stop just two laps later.
He emerged from his second stop way ahead of Mercedes' Gary Paffett and Spengler, who completed the podium after a race-long battle.
Spengler had led from Paffett in the first stint. But the Briton gave away second place to Scheider when he spun at Turn 2 just two laps before coming in for his first stop. Spengler then struggled in the middle of the race, which enabled Paffett to retake the position during the second round of stops.
Scheider was able to employ his radical strategy because the race was 21 laps shorter than the planned distance, after Alexandre Premat suffered a horrendous accident at the end of the first lap which brought out the red flags.
After contact with Maro Engel, Premat's Phoenix Audi speared into the wall on the left of the pit straight, and then rolled several times before coming to rest on its side against the wall. The Frenchman miraculously walked away from the accident just seconds later.
Just before the red flag, championship leader di Resta had been spun around by Mike Rockenfeller (Phoenix Audi) at the last corner. Di Resta went on to charge from the back to seventh, but he fell back again following a hit from Abt Audi's Miguel Molina just six laps from the end.
As the Scot fought on to the finish, he lost eighth place and the final point to Mattias Ekstrom's Audi on the penultimate lap.
Ekstrom was fighting back from problems of his own, as he had been catching Spengler and Paffett in the first stint of the race. But he was delayed in the pits, which ruled him out of contention.
Behind the top three, the Audis of Markus Winkelhock, Oliver Jarvis and Martin Tomczyk completed the top six.
Spengler has retaken the lead of the championship from di Resta by three points, while Paffett has a slim chance going into the Shanghai finale nine points adrift.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Timo Scheider Audi 1h15m01.965s
2. Gary Paffett Mercedes + 8.912s
3. Bruno Spengler Mercedes + 9.738s
4. Markus Winkelhock Audi + 16.965s
5. Oliver Jarvis Audi + 18.008s
6. Martin Tomczyk Audi + 22.527s
7. Maro Engel Mercedes + 34.424s
8. Mattias Ekstrom Audi + 41.246s
9. Paul di Resta Mercedes + 43.757s
10. David Coulthard Mercedes + 47.033s
11. Mike Rockenfeller Audi + 47.953s
12. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes + 52.417s
13. Jamie Green Mercedes + 57.321s
14. Cong Fu Cheng Mercedes + 58.240s
15. Susie Stoddart Mercedes + 1m04.430s
16. Katherine Legge Audi + 1m09.289s
Miguel Molina Audi 31 laps
Alexandre Premat Audi 1 laps