Gabriele Tarquini boosted his title prospects in the World Touring Car Championship by taking pole position for tomorrow's first race at Oschersleben, while his main rivals suffered a torrid session.
A downpour less than five minutes into Q1 meant that the 10 places in the all-important Q2 session were effectively decided in the first two flying laps. Tarquini set the best time on his second flying lap and eased through, along with works SEAT teammate Rickard Rydell.
The factory BMWs of Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller and Alex Zanardi made it through, along with the Chevrolets of Rob Huff and Nicola Larini, the Lada of Jaap van Lagen and the independent class cars of Tom Coronel and Marin Colak.
Notable casualties included Andy Priaulx (15th), Yvan Muller (17th), Alain Menu (19th), Jordi Gene (22nd) and Tiago Monteiro (26th). Muller and Gene chose to pit after just one flying lap, while the others failed to set a quick enough time on their first two flying laps before the circuit was too wet for any improvements.
The whole field was soon in for wet tires, but the rain meant that the times didn't get within 10 seconds of those set at the beginning.
The track was drying by Q2 and although Farfus and Muller set the pace initially for BMW, Tarquini gambled on slick tyres and went six seconds quicker at the end to take pole.
"It was a very tough session especially the second one," he said. "In the first I made the right decision to stay on the track as long as possible. In the second I was not 100 percent sure that the slick tire was the best option, but on my second lap I decided to stick with them until the checkered flag."
Colak will join Tarquini on the front row of the grid in his SEAT Leon, and Tarquini will have the back-up of teammate Rydell, who will start third.
Jaap van Lagen put Lada fourth on the grid for his first race in the new Priora, while Larini and Huff will share the third row for Chevrolet, despite Huff breaking down mid-way through Q2.
Coronel was the quickest of those who chose to stay on wets in seventh, while Muller, Farfus and Zanardi followed on wets for BMW.
Tarquini lies just five points behind Yvan Muller, and one ahead of Farfus, in the standings and could take the lead tomorrow with his rivals starting 17th and ninth respectively.
Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2
1. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT 1m41.478s 1m39.866s
2. Marin Colak SEAT 1m41.490s 1m41.692s
3. Rickard Rydell SEAT 1m41.626s 1m42.192s
4. Jaap van Lagen Lada 1m41.629s 1m42.307s
5. Nicola Larini Chevrolet 1m41.804s 1m43.626s
6. Robert Huff Chevrolet 1m41.891s 1m45.526s
7. Tom Coronel SEAT 1m42.073s 1m46.104s
8. Jorg Muller BMW 1m42.294s 1m46.249s
9. Augusto Farfus BMW 1m42.321s 1m46.481s
10. Alex Zanardi BMW 1m42.916s 1m47.667s
11. Sergio Hernandez BMW 1m43.034s
12. Stefano D'Aste BMW 1m43.108s
13. Felix Porteiro BMW 1m43.140s
14. Franz Engstler BMW 1m43.183s
15. Andy Priaulx BMW 1m43.533s
16. Tom Boardman SEAT 1m43.987s
17. Yvan Muller SEAT 1m44.198s
18. Michel Nykjaer Chevrolet 1m44.204s
19. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m44.259s
20. Jason Watt SEAT 1m44.273s
21. Jean-Marie Clairet SEAT 1m44.407s
22. Jordi Gene SEAT 1m44.705s
23. Kristian Poulsen BMW 1m44.759s
24. Philip Geipel BMW 1m45.476s
25. Viktor Shapovalov Lada 1m45.521s
26. Tiago Monteiro SEAT 1m46.127s
27. Kirill Ladygin Lada 1m48.959s