DTM championship leader Bruno Spengler set the pace in the first free practice session of the weekend at Hockenheim on Friday afternoon.
The Canadian, who leads the standings by seven points from his HWA-Mercedes teammate Paul di Resta, moved from the bottom end of the time sheets to top spot with just 10 minutes remaining of the 90-minute session. That pushed title outsider Gary Paffett down to second, where he would remain until the end just ahead of the impressive Maro Engel in third in his 2008-spec Mercedes.
Engel had briefly grabbed top spot toward the end of a long spell of domination for the older cars. Initially, Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller had set the pace in their '08 Audis, but the pair had to settle for completing the top five.
While Spengler and Paffett finished the day at the head of the times, di Resta never really featured at the front. The Scot, who has made up ground on Spengler in the title race by winning the last two races, got himself up to seventh, as he and Jamie Green (sixth) made gains toward the end of the session.
None of the 2009-spec Audi drivers, who were troubled by severe tire problems at the season opener here in May, made it into the top 10 on their return to Hockenheim.
Oliver Jarvis and Mattias Ekstrom were the best-placed of the four cars in 11th and 12th. Ekstrom still has a mathematical chance of the title, but he has already written off his chances of making up a 26-point gap in three races.
Martin Tomczyk, who lost the lead here in May with a spectacular puncture, was only 14th in the next best Abt Sportsline Audi, while two-time champion Timo Scheider was 16th.
This was the first timed session to be held on the new shortened Hockenheim layout, which doesn't include the Spitzkehre Hairpin at the end of the back straight. Spengler's best time of 1:20.623 was around 12 seconds faster than the quickest times set in qualifying on the longer track earlier this year.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Bruno Spengler Mercedes 1:20.623 31
2. Gary Paffett Mercedes 1:20.645 + 0.022 37
3. Maro Engel Mercedes 1:20.741 + 0.118 27
4. Alexandre Premat Audi 1:20.821 + 0.198 34
5. M.Rockenfeller Audi 1:20.862 + 0.239 40
6. Jamie Green Mercedes 1:20.879 + 0.256 33
7. Paul Di Resta Mercedes 1:20.983 + 0.360 26
8. Miguel Molina Audi 1:21.037 + 0.414 41
9. Ralf Schumacher Mercedes 1:21.058 + 0.435 29
10. David Coulthard Mercedes 1:21.073 + 0.450 32
11. Oliver Jarvis Audi 1:21.138 + 0.515 45
12. Mattias Ekstrom Audi 1:21.146 + 0.523 44
13. M.Winkelhock Audi 1:21.209 + 0.586 40
14. Martin Tomczyk Audi 1:21.379 + 0.756 38
15. Susie Stoddart Mercedes 1:21.507 + 0.884 40
16. Timo Scheider Audi 1:21.551 + 0.928 31
17. Cong Fu Cheng Mercedes 1:21.671 + 1.048 35
18. Katherine Legge Audi 1:22.231 + 1.608 43
All Timing Unofficial