Gary Paffett has kicked off Mercedes' final year in the DTM in euphoric fashion after claiming pole position for the Hockenheim season opener ahead of BMW's Marco Wittmann.

The 2005 DTM champion clocked a 1 minute 32.264s lap around the German Grand Prix venue, which was good enough to beat the RMG run BMW M4 of Wittmann by just 0.2s.

Paffett set his quickest lap during the first sequence of flying laps before the halfway point of the 20-minute shootout, while Wittmann improved late on to close within 0.2s of the HWA prepared Mercedes C63 DTM machine.

FP2 pacesetter Timo Glock missed out on the front row by just 0.005s behind his BMW team mate in third. Mercedes runner Lucas Auer joins the former F1-star on the second row of the grid in fourth, ahead of DTM returnee Pascal Wehrlein, who set the fifth quickest time on his series comeback.

Team RMG's Augusto Farfus lines up for the season opener in sixth ahead of Mercedes' Edoardo Mortara, who was another to improve late in the session in seventh.

Former champion Bruno Spengler was next up in eighth position, just 0.004s quicker than Audi's Rene Rast, who starts the defence of his 2017 title in ninth position.

DTM newcomer Joel Eriksson marked his qualifying in the series with an impressive top-ten result in tenth.

Elsewhere, Mattias Ekstrom - competing at Hockenheim as a guest entrant after announcing his retirement from this series last year - kicked off his DTM swansong in 18th.