It took time and effort -- five races in 2007 and three more in 2008 -- but Paul di Resta finally broke Audi's stranglehold on pole positions at Eurospeedway Lausitz, giving Mercedes-Benz its first pole in eight DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) events.
With a time of 1:17.628, nearly eight tenths faster than last year's pole position time, no one could challenge the young Scot for his first DTM pole.
"The best car that I have ever driven," di Resta smiled. "Of course, pole in qualifying doesn't mean victory in the race, but it is a very good position to work from."
The closest anyone could get to di Resta was last year's pole man, Bruno Spengler, in another Mercedes. The Canadian was still 0.264 seconds off di Resta's pace, having stumbled slightly early on his hot lap.
Nevertheless, di Resta and Spengler locked out the front row for Mercedes, dropping the previously-invincible Audis back to the second row.
"On my final lap, I ran slightly wide in the first corner and I lost two tenths of a second," Spengler explained. "As a result, I couldn't make it to pole. The track suits us quite well and with a good start on Sunday, anything can happen."
Timo Scheider put on a brave face, but third place was bound to be a disappointment for the Audi ace after three pole positions on the trot to start the 2008 season. He got close to Spengler, 0.062 seconds off the second Mercedes driver's pace, but not close enough to take the second position.
Scheider's teammate, Mattias Ekstrom, will start next to him from the fourth grid position, with a time of 1:18.021, 0.067 seconds slower than Scheider.
"Third place in qualifying is a good result," he still claimed. "And with two Audis on the second row, we have a good basis. Now, our entire focus is on Sunday and then, we will see what can be achieved."
Between the Mugello race a fortnight ago and Lausitz today, Audi dropped 20 kg of ballast, with Mercedes picking up an equivalent amount. However, the weight-loss program did not pay dividends to the Ingolstadt team today, as their Stuttgart rivals got the setup right for the challenging Lausitz circuit.
"Paul di Resta set an extraordinary lap time and qualifying remained exciting until the end," Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, Audi motorsport director congratulated his rivals. "The mathematical chance for us to claim the ninth pole in a row surely wasn't too big. Timo Scheider has got the best out of his car. From the second row, we will try everything to make it a good race and maybe to reach the result that we didn't get in Mugello."
The race starts at 2 PM local time tomorrow; with the rededigned first turn, anything could happen at the start and the two German rival teams are sure to put on a good show for the spectators.