Bruno Spengler banished his dramas of morning practice to take pole position for the opening DTM race of the season at Hockenheim.
The Canadian, who failed to complete a flying lap during the morning, had a new front splitter fitted for qualifying and was in inspired form as he set the fastest time in Q3 to ease into the single-lap, pole-deciding Q4 with Ralf Schumacher, Timo Scheider and Mattias Ekstrom.
Ekstrom, who had been the slowest of the four drivers that made it into Q4, looked set for pole as the Abt Audi driver went around in 1m34.402s. First his teammate Scheider ruined his chances by locking up and sliding wide at the Spitzkehre hairpin, and then Schumacher just failed to knock him off the top spot.
Spengler had no such problems, lying just a thousandth of a second up on Ekstrom's time after the second sector, but making up over a tenth through the final sector to take the eighth pole of his DTM career.
Mike Rockenfeller was the best of the drivers who failed to make it into Q4. The Abt debutant was on course to make the single-lap shootout until Scheider knocked him out of the top four with his final effort in Q3.
Behind Rockenfeller, Martin Tomczyk was the best of the drivers in older-spec machinery, putting his Phoenix Audi sixth, ahead of Maro Engel (Mucke Mercedes) and Miguel Molina (Abt Audi).
Christian Vietoris was the best of the rookie drivers, putting his Persson Mercedes ninth on the grid, ahead of F3 Euro Series champion Edoardo Mortara (Rosberg Mercedes).
The two British drivers expected to challenge for the title for Mercedes – Gary Paffett and Jamie Green – both endured difficult sessions. Paffett spun into the tires at the Sachs Kurve on his opening lap of Q1 at the Sachs Kurve and would not return to the track, forcing him to start from the back of the grid and also bringing out the red flags.
When the action resumed, with Q1 abandoned and everyone else allowed into an extended Q2, Green was unable to make it higher than 14th – one place behind David Coulthard's older-spec Mucke Mercedes.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Bruno Spengler HWA Mercedes 1m34.270s
2. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m34.402s + 0.132s
3. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m34.577s + 0.307s
4. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m35.434s + 1.164s
5. Mike Rockenfeller Abt Audi 1m34.194s (Q3)
6. Martin Tomczyk Phoenix Audi 1m34.285s (Q3)
7. Maro Engel Mucke Mercedes 1m34.386s (Q3)
8. Miguel Molina Abt Audi 1m35.268s (Q3)
9. Christian Vietoris Persson Mercedes 1m34.445s (Q2)
10. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m34.460s (Q2)
11. Renger van der Zande Persson Mercedes 1m34.475s (Q2)
12. Oliver Jarvis Abt Audi 1m34.559s (Q2)
13. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 1m34.698s (Q2)
14. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m34.720s (Q2)
15. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m34.758s (Q2)
16. Susie Stoddart Persson Mercedes 1m34.778s (Q2)
17. Rahel Frey Phoenix Audi 1m35.403s (Q2)
18. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes (Q1)