World Touring Car Championship leader Gabriele Tarquini is well positioned to extend his margin in the overall standings after qualifying on pole position for his home race at Imola.
Tarquini has a slender one point lead over Augusto Farfus in the overall standings, but shrugged off any concerns about success ballast to claim a comfortable pole position, while his Brazilian rival could only make do with sixth.
Performing on home ground this weekend, Tarquini will be flanked by two of his SEAT Sport team-mates, with reigning champion Yvan Muller – himself just seven points off the top spot overall – alongside him in second and Rickard Rydell in third place.
With the lengthy home straight playing into the hands of the rapid Leon TDIs, the Spanish manufacturer certainly had the upper hand as they squeezed all five of their cars into the top ten shootout, with Tiago Monteiro and Jordi Gene also starting fifth and eighth
Breaking the Leon lock-out was Rob Huff, who led a good session for Chevrolet in fourth position, the Briton being joined by team-mates Nicola Larini and Alain Menu inside the top ten, even if the latter failed to set a time after suffering mechanical problems at the end of the earlier knockout session.
By contrast, BMW endured a more troublesome time, with Farfus and Andy Priaulx the only drivers from the Munich marque making it into the top ten. Nonetheless, they remain relatively well placed in sixth and seventh.
Outside the top ten, notable absentees included Jorg Muller in 12th, just behind Sergio Hernandez in 11th, while Alex Zanardi couldn't maintain his pace from free practice down in 13th position.
James Thompson continued to show promise in the LADA Priora, emerging in 15th position, just four tenths away from qualifying for the top ten shootout.
In the Independents' category, Stefano D'Aste was led the way in 14th, with Felix Porteiro in 16th and Tom Coronel in 17th.