The qualifying session at the traditional DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) venue of Oschersleben saw what has been a common sight in the 2010 DTM season: a Mercedes-Benz C-class on the pole position. Paul di Resta took the top starting position for the Stuttgart manufacturer ahead of championship leader Bruno Spengler.
"It was difficult to get the car running well today," di Resta recounted. "After the first segment of qualifying, we were still not satisfied. But then we made some major changes and then the car was running just great."
It was the second pole position in a row for di Resta, who is trailing his fellow Mercedes driver Spengler in the championship point standings by nine points, 52 to 43 in the Canadian's favour, with four races remaining. But in qualifying today, di Resta held the edge by 0.261 seconds.
Spengler, though, could clinch the title by simply finishing second in each of the remaining races, as that would cost him a maximum of eight points by the end of the season. And for Spengler, who has finished off the podium only once in the seven races to date, that kind of consistency is certainly not out of the question.
Behind the all-Mercedes front row -- and championship spat -- the front of the grid was dominated by Audi, the next six cars all carrying the Ingolstadt marque's four rings. However, once again the Audi drivers were unable to crack the front row of the grid.
Time Scheider and Mike Rockenfeller made it to the final segment, the four-driver shootout, but di Resta's time was far ahead of what they could do. Rockenfeller, driving a 2008-spec Audi A4, beat his more experienced teammate, and got to within 0.076 seconds of Spengler, but no closer.
"This is the first time I am the top Audi driver in qualifying," said Spengler. "I had not expected that it would work here as well for me."
The third and penultimate qualifying segment had looked to be an Audi romp, with six of the eight cars included, and three drivers bettering Spengler's times in the second segment. But when it counted, only Rockenfeller and Scheider made it through to the final single-car shootout.
Martin Tomczyk and Mattias Ekstrom will start from the third row, as Rockenfeller edged them for that final shootout position by some two tenths of a second. Oliver Jarvis and Audi's rookie sensation, Miguel Molina, will start seventh and eighth.
Gary Paffett, third in the title chase, failed to advance from the second qualifying segment and will start tenth, behind fellow Mercedes driver, Jamie Green.
Audi's Scheider and Ekstrom are still mathematically in the race with 29 and 28 points, respectively, but unless they finish ahead of Spengler tomorrow, they will be eliminated from the championship battle, even mathematically.
The race will start at 2 PM local time on Sunday.