Mercedes driver Edoardo Mortara narrowly sealed pole position for the DTM's Norisring opener after a qualifying session interrupted by a red flag caused by defending champion Rene Rast crashing out.
Mortara deposed long-time provisional polesitter Phillip Eng by just 0.001s in the final flying lap of his second run, pulling into the pits with 90 seconds to go.
While waiting to see if he had secured pole, Eng's response provided a green middle sector on his last lap but it wasn't enough to depose Mortara.
Those times came in a flurry of late improvements after Rast's Audi got loose exiting the Scholler S and spun into the concrete wall of Turn 3, the crash extensively damaging the rear of his car.
With debris on the track, the session was delayed for around five minutes.
Two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann was third in a much improved qualifying performance compared to last time out in Hungary.
That put him ahead of title protagonist and Mercedes driver Gary Paffett in fourth.
Paul di Resta had regularly featured as a pole threat in the first stages of qualifying but dropped to fifth ahead of Dani Juncadella and Lucas Auer.
DTM points leader Timo Glock qualified in eighth ahead of Bruno Spengler.
Nico Muller was consistently the quickest Audi driver throughout the session and qualified in 10th, with Jamie Green in 13th and the other four Audis locking out the bottom positions.
Former Sauber Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein slotted between the Audis of Green and Loic Duval in 14th.
|1||Edoardo Mortara||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||47.843|
|2||Philipp Eng||BMW M4 DTM||47.844||0.001|
|3||Marco Wittmann||BMW M4 DTM||47.866||0.023|
|4||Gary Paffett||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||47.872||0.029|
|5||Paul di Resta||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||47.899||0.056|
|6||Daniel Juncadella||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||47.919||0.076|
|7||Lucas Auer||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||47.934||0.091|
|8||Timo Glock||BMW M4 DTM||47.950||0.107|
|9||Bruno Spengler||BMW M4 DTM||47.973||0.130|
|10||Nico Müller||Audi RS5 DTM||48.067||0.224|
|11||Joel Eriksson||BMW M4 DTM||48.091||0.248|
|12||Augusto Farfus||BMW M4 DTM||48.098||0.255|
|13||Jamie Green||Audi RS5 DTM||48.221||0.378|
|14||Pascal Wehrlein||Mercedes-AMG C63 DTM||48.253||0.410|
|15||Loic Duval||Audi RS5 DTM||48.301||0.458|
|16||Robin Frijns||Audi RS5 DTM||48.312||0.469|
|17||Mike Rockenfeller||Audi RS5 DTM||48.360||0.517|
|18||René Rast||Audi RS5 DTM||48.444||0.601|