Reigning DTM champion Timo Scheider claimed pole position for the third round of the season at the Norisring on Saturday.

A mix of thunderstorms, rain and sunshine made qualifying a thrilling affair, but in the end it was Scheider who coped best with the difficult conditions in his Audi A4 DTM and with a lap time of 49.012 seconds, the 30-year old set the fastest time at the 2.3 kilometre long street circuit.

"After four years, we have claimed the first pole position for Audi at the Norisring today," said the German, after picking up the seventh pole position of his DTM career and his first since managing the feat at Brands in August last year.

"It is a great day for us. It was an extremely difficult qualifying as far as the right set-up and the right timing were concerned. Audi did a fantastic job in that respect today and that was the key to success.

"I want to personally thank my race engineer for making the right decisions at the right moment although the conditions were really hard to judge."

Mattias Ekstrom, who was gunning for his third pole in a row, had to settle for P2, only one tenth of a second off Scheider.

"That was an extremely exciting qualifying today," he added. "So, it's even better if it was a thrill for the spectators and, in the end, you're on the front row. A great success for Audi, particularly at the home round.

"The result also shows that the whole team did a fantastic job of testing and preparing our Audi A4 DTM for this highlight of the season. Now, I'm looking forward to the race - after all, we've got the best starting base for winning here in Nuremberg. I'll give everything for that tomorrow."

Last year's pole-sitter at the Norisring, Mercedes-Benz driver Bruno Spengler was next up and will start in P3.

"This was the craziest qualifying of my career," said the Canadian. "Never before, I experienced so many changes between dry and wet sections of the track. In these conditions, third place on the grid is not too bad and also from the second row everything will be possible in tomorrow's race."

2005 DTM champion, Gary Paffett completed the top four and like Spengler, he felt the conditions made it very tough, not that he was overly happy with P4.

"The continuous changes between wet and dry conditions made it difficult today. In the end we were just not fast enough and more than fourth position should have been possible," said Paffett. "Tomorrow I will give it my all - racing on this circuit is really a lot of fun."

Meanwhile Katherine Legge will start from fifth, after Maro Engel, Jamie Green and Ralf Schumacher had their times from Q3 disallowed as they exceeded the maximum number of allowed laps.

Legge, who was the fastest driver in a year-old car as a result, was delighted with the place, which incidentally is the best achieved by a woman in the history of the new DTM.

"That was tremendous!" said Katherine. "Everything went according to plan and the team did a good job. I feel that we really deserve this position.

"Qualifying 3 in particular was very interesting. Unfortunately, I had to go to the pits when the track was getting faster and faster but I had already completed the maximum permissible eight laps. The result is okay. Now, I'm looking forward to a good race."

Further down the order, Tom Kristensen and Paul di Resta rounded out the top ten, although the latter was later demoted to 15th due to an infringement of parc ferm? regulations.

Of the rest, Johannes Seidlitz will miss the race after the Kolles Futurecom-TME team withdrew its car, while Markus Winkelhock is also doubtful.

Winkelhock heavily damaged his Audi in a bizarre incident in free practice when he hit a manhole cover that had come loose on the start-finish straight. He subsequently had to sit out qualifying and his team now faces a race against time to repair it in time for the warm-up on Sunday morning.

"I'm happy about first and second place for Audi. Unfortunately, my day was over as early as in free practice," Winkelhock noted.

"I drove across a manhole cover that had been lifted by a preceding car at full speed. There was an awful impact and I didn't know at first what was going on.

"I was lucky, though. But now my guys have to do a job within one day that normally takes four: to prepare the car all the way from scratch again. They'll give everything so that I'll be able to start to the race."