Indeed, strong late laps for Bernd Schneider, Jamie Green and Christian Abt were enough to end the top eight dream for Markus Winkelhock, the German hooking up an impressive lap to defy his disappointing performance in practice, but not quite doing enough to make the shootout.
It was a similar story for Lucas Luhr, who had hinted at a possible challenge for pole position having set a strong pace in practice but had to settle for a somewhat disappointing 11th, one position behind Mathias Lauda, who will make only his second top ten start in tenth. Timo Scheider was another surprise loss down in 12th, while Gary Paffett and Mike Rockenfeller also found themselves out of the running.
Into the final stage of qualifying, most notably all 2007-specification models – barring Scheider and Winkelhock – made the top eight, with only Premat and Abt's 06 Audi usurping the natural order. That meant honours were even between Mercedes and Audi into the final session, giving no clue to the identity of the pole man.
Nonetheless, Hakkinen did a good job of revealing that answer early on with a lap of 42.660secs to go fastest with five minutes to run. However, he was immediately demoted to second when Jamie Green crossed the start-finish line almost a tenth quicker.
However, sadly for Green that lap was scrapped after it was judged to have been set under a red flag, deployed when Martin Tomczyk crashed at Druids. It therefore promoted Hakkinen back into provisional pole position, a status that became a definite pole position at the end of the session when the drivers were unable to improve their times.
As such, Hakkinen matched his feat from Oschersleben to score pole position, the Finn leading Spengler on the front row of the grid, the Canadian maintaining his record of qualifying inside the top three for each race.
Premat was the surprise Audi front runner in third, the Frenchman proving he is settling into touring cars with ease in a session that also proved very successful for his Team Phoenix squad, Premat's team-mate Christian Abt qualifying an impressive fifth. They will be split by Mattias Ekstrom in fourth.
Sixth and seventh were filled by Bernd Schneider and Green, the Brit unable to find the same speed that would have taken him to pole position had Tomczyk not had his mishap. The German meanwhile will start eighth.