Laurin Heinrich of the #75 Team75 Motorsport Porsche grasped his first DTM pole position in wet conditions, ahead of the first race of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring.
A thrilling qualifying session took place at the Red Bull Ring, in Austria, where drivers qualified for their Race 1 grid positions in wet, tricky conditions.
During the dry free practice sessions, the Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO2 cars seemed to struggle, with none finishing in the top-20 in FP1, and Luca Engstler being the highest-finishing Audi in FP2 at P18.
The championship fight played a part during the 20-minute session, with overtaking expected to be a worthy challenge around the medium-fast turns of the Spielberg circuit, and thus the protagonists of Mirko Bortolotti and Thomas Preining needed to match or outqualify one another.
The former driver leads the standings on 173 points, as the latter trailed on 164, and prior to the usual allocated qualifying points to the top-three finishers (P1/pole position – three points, P2 – two points, P3 – one point).
During the early stages of the session, Toksport WRT’s Tim Heinemann set the outright fastest pace in his #9 Porsche 911 GT3.R, from a 1:38.133 lap time.
A red flag was called with under 12 minutes remaining, after David Schumacher crashed sideways into a tyre wall after slipping up on the wet track surface at Turn 2, ruling himself out of the session in his #27 Team Winward Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO2.
Bortolotti topped the order before the session was disrupted, indicating that conditions changed as lap times got quicker, after being the first to enter the 1:37 margin.
Wet tyres were still favoured as the session continued once the #27 was recovered.
During the closing stages of the session, many drivers entered the 1:37 bracket when they returned their GT3 cars to optimum running as those who experimented with the slick tyre decided to switch back to wets.
Kelvin van der Linde shot to the top of the order with a 1:36.843 lap time in his #3 ABT Sportsline Audi, showing pace in the rain-soaked conditions.
At the chequered flag, Laurin Heinrich narrowly beat van der Linde to the top spot with a 1:36.778 in his #75 Porsche.
Van der Linde finished second 0.065 seconds behind, as third was claimed by the other Team75 Motorsport Porsche of Ayhancan Güven after a 1:36.859.
Fourth place was claimed by Preining from a 1:36.594, followed by his Manthey EMA teammate of Dennis Olsen, who set a 1:36.978.
In sixth position, Maro Engel was the highest-placed Mercedes after he set a 1:36.985, followed by seventh-placed Rene Rast in his BMW M4 GT3.
His time of 1:37.010 surpassed Marco Wittmann’s #11 Project 1 BMW, which completed a lap of 1:37.016.
Luca Stolz’s #4 Team HRT Mercedes finished in ninth place from a 1:37.027 time.
Championship-leader Bortolotti rounded off the top-10, and occupied six positions behind his title rival, after his best time of 1:37.123 in the #92 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2.
Ricardo Feller attempted to qualify on slicks, and so finished in P26 out of 28 cars, setting a tall order to narrow the gap from P3 in the championship on 142 points.
Race 1 takes place later today from 12:30 pm UK time.