Gabriele Tarquini went quickest in the first World Touring Car Championship free practice session at Imola this morning.
SEAT set the pace throughout most of the session with reigning champion Yvan Muller leading the way for much of the half hour.
Tom Coronel leapt to the top of the timesheet in his independent SEAT Leon with 10 minutes remaining and looked set to retain the spot until the end.
But Tarquini, who is from Giulianova 150km south of Imola, unleashed a huge improvement on his final quick lap to lower the bar from Coronel's 1m57.2s to 1m56.6s.
Alex Zanardi then made it an Italian 1-2 in the last minute of the session, slotting into second ahead of Muller, who had improved to knock Coronel down to fourth.
Augusto Farfus was fifth fastest, ahead of fellow BMW driver Sergio Hernandez, with Jordi Gene's SEAT leading the Chevrolets of Alain Menu and Rob Huff.
Jorg Muller completed the top 10 for BMW, while the third Italian driver, Nicola Larini, was 11th ahead of Rickard Rydell and Andy Priaulx.
Tiago Monteiro was 14th in the fifth works SEAT, with Coronel's closest independent class rivals Felix Porteiro and Stefano D'Aste 15th and 16th in their BMWs, ahead of James Thompson in the first of the Ladas.
Times to follow