Team tactics could very well come into play for the eighth round of the DTM Championship at the Circuit de Catalunya after Audi annexed the top three in qualifying, even if it was Martin Tomczyk and not Tom Kristensen claiming pole position in Barcelona.

Having seen several drivers top the practice timesheets over the weekend, qualifying was expected to be something of a lottery, a fact proved by arguably the most unpredictable grid of the season as the drivers got to grips with the first DTM race to ever be held in Spain at different rates.

Nonetheless, Audi continued to hold the advantage they have shown over the weekend, even if Tomczyk was perhaps not the pole sitter they ideally had in mind. Nonetheless, the German will lead compatriot Heinz-Harald Frentzen on the grid, the former F1 driver claiming his best grid slot since he joined Audi.

However, most eyes will be on the battle from row two as Tom Kristensen, the only Audi driver capable of taking the title now, will line-up alongside rival and championship leader Bernd Schneider. It remains to be seen whether team orders will be engineered to get the Dane into the lead and keep Schneider at bay but there is little doubt which driver Audi will want standing on top of the podium come Sunday...

With the weather playing havoc around Barcelona for much of the weekend, qualifying began in cool temperatures as the cars streamed onto a wet the circuit for the first knockout session with the usual suspects making up the top of the timesheets, including Jamie Green, Schneider and Frentzen.

However, at the crucial tail end of the field there were some rather unfamiliar names taking an early bath from proceedings, not least Norisring and Nurburgring winner Bruno Spengler, the Canadian almost certainly kissing his slim title hopes goodbye with 19th on the grid, only one place ahead of last place Susie Stoddart.

Indeed, it was a tough session for Stoddart's Mucke Motorsport team with team-mates Daniel La Rosa and Stefan Mucke faring little better in 17th and 18th respectively. Another surprise name to miss out on the second session was Christian Abt, the German being outpaced by the two 2004 Futurecom Audis of Nicolas Kiesa and Vanina Ickx.

Indeed, while Kiesa would just miss out on a place in the second qualifying session, Ickx, who has spent much of the year planted to the back of the grid, made a surprise appearance in the second session, the first time that either herself of the team have qualified in the top 14.

There would be a further surprise in the second session when highly regarded 'qualifying master' Jamie Green failed to set a time any better than for 13th place, a result that, along with Spengler's failure, is likely to prove a bitter blow for Mercedes and their tactics.

Up at the front though, it was Frentzen this time moving to the top of the timesheets, marginally ahead of team-mate Kristensen, while Tomczyk provided a clue to Audi's pace in completing the top three.

Just missing out on the top eight 'Superpole' however was Timo Scheider in ninth, Mathias Lauda in a season best of tenth, Jean Alesi 11th, Pierre Kaffer 12th and Ickx in 14th place.

Indeed, having proved the top three pace setters in the previous session, Frentzen, Kristensen and Tomczyk set about further proving the pace of their A4 saloon around the tighter configuration of the Circuit de Catalunya.

However, while the Audi script writers no doubt had a top three lockout in their plans, they arguably would not have had pole position claimed by Tomczyk, the German claiming the fourth pole position of his career as he attempts to consolidate his fourth place in the championship from Green

Furthermore, Kristensen was not able to get onto the front of the grid as it was Frentzen who equalled the best qualifying position of his short DTM career in second place, just ahead of championship challenger Kristensen, who needs a good result this weekend in order to keep himself realistically in the title hunt.

However, Schneider was not far off, finishing as the leading Mercedes in fourth on a weekend where the three-pointed star look to be struggling against their Ingolstadt rivals. Still, he has support in the form of Mika Hakkinen in fifth place, the Finn maintaining a good qualifying record for the season, even if the manufacturer will be frustrated to see just four C-Class' in the top ten, with one of those being a 2004-specification model.

Mattias Ekstrom ended the session in sixth place, marginally ahead of Stippler, while Alexandros Margaritis rounded out the final shootout slot in eighth place.


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