Bruno Spengler topped the opening free practice session for the DTM finale at Hockenheim on Friday while championship leader Gary Paffett was back in 16th.
Schnitzer BMW driver Spengler's best lap of 1m34.971s came late in the 90-minute session, and left him a huge 0.805secs clear of the similar RMG-run M3 of Martin Tomczyk.
In an unusually spread-out session, only the Audis of Phoenix driver Mike Rockenfeller and Abt's Mattias Ekstrom, and Augusto Farfus's RBM BMW lapped within a second of Spengler's marker. Audis and BMWs made up the remainder of the top 10 with Filipe Albuquerque, Miguel Molina and Andy Priaulx ahead of Edoardo Mortara and Timo Scheider.
Mercedes drivers did not feature near the front during Friday's running. Paffett – who leads Spengler by only three points in the standings – was 16th and 1.7sec off the pace.
Paffett's HWA teammate Jamie Green, who trails his countryman by 18 points with just Sunday's race remaining, was a spot further back in 17th.
The session featured only a few minor incidents. Adrien Tambay was launched into the air after 30 minutes; the Frenchman running too wide out while exiting the Mercedes Arena and hitting a "sausage curb" hard in his Abt Audi.
Tambay later slid off at the Spitzkehre without hitting anything while Mercedes drivers Ralf Schumacher and Robert Wickens both outbraked themselves at the Sachs Kurve and put two wheels just off the circuit mid-corner.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1m34.971s
2. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 1m35.776s + 0.805s
3. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 1m35.785s + 0.814s
4. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m35.892s + 0.921s
5. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 1m35.967s + 0.996s
6. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 1m35.993s + 1.022s
7. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m36.039s + 1.068s
8. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 1m36.117s + 1.146s
9. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 1m36.157s + 1.186s
10. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m36.239s + 1.268s
11. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m36.284s + 1.313s
12. Joey Hand RMG BMW 1m36.350s + 1.379s
13. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 1m36.356s + 1.385s
14. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 1m36.367s + 1.396s
15. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 1m36.627s + 1.656s
16. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1m36.649s + 1.678s
17. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m36.667s + 1.696s
18. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 1m36.713s + 1.742s
19. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 1m36.720s + 1.749s
20. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 1m36.748s + 1.777s
21. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 1m36.912s + 1.941s
22. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m36.957s + 1.986s