Timo Scheider underlined Audi's superiority as the 2008 DTM campaign gets into gear at Hockenheim this weekend, by storming to the top spot on the starting grid with a new lap record around the Baden-Württemberg circuit.
Indeed, Audi occupy five of the top eight positions, as pre-season testing star Scheider took two tenths of a second off Tom Kristensen's pole-winning time from the 2007 finale at the same track to seal the third pole of his DTM career. Defending champion Mattias Ekström – who won this race twelve months ago and paced Q1 – will begin alongside Scheider on the front row, just over a tenth of a second further back, with an all-Mercedes row two as the three-pointed star finally showed its true hand for the first time when the qualifying session got underway.
2007 series runner-up Bruno Spengler and newly-promoted AMG star Paul di Resta were both four tenths shy of the pole-winning time, and ahead of Tom Kristensen and Jamie Green, the former having taken the top spot in qualifying at Hockenheim last October and the latter having taken the chequered flag first in the race for only his second DTM victory.
Martin Tomczyk will begin the curtain-raiser a somewhat disappointed seventh, with Oliver Jarvis achieving his ambition of a top ten start in eighth, the Briton impressing once more as he proved to be the highest-placed driver in a year-old car and ahead of none other than five-time DTM king Bernd Schneider in ninth, the German the only driver of 2008-spec machinery not to make it through into the final knock-out stage.
Fellow former title-winner Gary Paffett rounded out the top ten, with Ralf Schumacher lining up 15th for his debut in the leading pan-European tin-top series – the six-time grand prix winner having missed making it through into Q2 by an agonising 88 thousandths of a second – Susie Stoddart 17th and rookie Katherine Legge 19th. Stoddart was actually looking good to make it through to the second session having posted the twelfth-quickest lap time early on, but a mistake when she went off at turn one put paid to the Scot's hopes.
Earlier on, Audi had again served signal of its intent as four of the Ingolstadt machines topped the final free practice session in the hands of Scheider, Tomczyk, Ekström and Kristensen, with the leading twelve drivers all blanketed by just one second.
As he had been all weekend until Spengler narrowly pipped him in qualifying, di Resta emerged as the fastest Mercedes pilot in fifth, albeit more than half a second away from the ultimate pace.
To see the qualifying times in full, click here