Thomas Preining took a crucial pole position for Race 1 at Hockenheim in the #91 Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R, giving him the advantage heading into the penultimate race of a hotly contested DTM season.
The Manthey EMA Porsche driver snatched pole late on in a session run in dry conditions, extending his championship lead by a further three bonus points to 13 over Mirko Bortolotti, who encountered track limits issues in the #92 SSR Performance Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO 2.
Christian Engelhart was closest to Preining’s time of 1:37.148s, with the GRT Grasser-Racing-Team driver 0.137s back in his #19 Lamborghini, with Preining’s teammate Dennis Olsen taking third in the second Manthey EMA Porsche.
With just over five minutes remaining, Ricardo Feller laid down an early benchmark, in the #7 ABT Sportsline Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II, which Bortolotti later eclipsed with just over two minutes remaining.
But the Italian driver, who sits second in the standings, had his lap time deleted for track limits and could not set a competitive time afterwards, resigning him to the fourth row of the grid in eighth.
This allowed championship leader Preining to ascend into a crucial provisional pole, which he would retain through to the end of the session as nobody could better his time of 1:37.148s.
Franck Perera in the #94 SSR Performance Lamborghini claimed fourth spot behind Preining, Engelhart and Olsen, with Jack Aitken claiming fifth spot in the #14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, just 0.345s back from pole.
Sixth went to Kelvin van der Linde in the #3 ABT Sportsline Audi, who set a time of 1:37.536s, with his teammate Feller taking seventh spot with a time of 1:37.567s.
Bortolotti lines up in eighth having surrendered three points in the championship standings to polesitter and series leader Preining.
Engelhart’s GRT teammate Clemens Schmid took ninth place in the #63 Lamborghini, with Luca Stolz rounding out the top 10 as the fastest Mercedes driver in the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT GT3 machine, with a time just half a second back from polesitter Preining.
Last year’s champion Sheldon van der Linde had a miserable qualifying session, winding up in 27th place with a time of 1:38.856 in the #1 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3.
With Preining taking three points for pole, S. van der Linde’s poor qualifying run sees him ruled out of title-winning contention with 53 points left on the table across the two remaining races and Sunday morning’s qualifying.
As it stands, Preining leads the Drviers’ standings on 193 points, with Bortolotti on 180 and Feller still with an outside chance of title glory in third on 159 points, 34 points adrift.
Race 1 at Hockenheim commences at 12.30pm UK/01.30pm local time.