Gary Paffett boosted his DTM title chances by securing pole position for the penultimate round of the season at Adria in Italy. His Mercedes teammate and title rival Bruno Spengler will line up second on the grid, while points leader Paul di Resta will start down in sixth.
There was drama at the end of the first segment of qualifying, when Timo Scheider had appeared to rescue himself out of the drop zone and into second place behind di Resta. This relegated Audi teammate Mattias Ekstrom into the bottom four, alongside David Coulthard, Congfu Cheng and Katherine Legge. However, the stewards then disallowed Scheider's lap time, saying that he started the lap just after the checkered flag. The reigning champion was furious, and refused to get out of the car at first, eventually storming into the back of the garage.
Jamie Green was fastest in Q2, with di Resta just squeezing into the top eight ahead of Martin Tomczyk. The Scot failed to make it through to the final session though, having to make do with sixth, behind Mike Rockenfeller. Spengler, Ekstrom, Green and Paffett were the four men who went through to Q4.
Paffett ran first in the deciding session, setting a benchmark time of 1:10.471. Green lost out in the final sector of his lap, so ended up fourth. Ekstrom beat him into third, while Spengler missed out on pole by just 0.010 seconds.
Paffett said: “I felt comfortable already yesterday and was able to improve a little bit again and again. I thank everybody in our team for the great job. I will give it my all tomorrow, to be up front also at the end and to reduce the gap behind Paul in the overall ranking. My target is to keep my title chances alive.”
Spengler said: “At the end of my final lap I made a mistake under braking; however, I stayed on the line and I don't think it cost me much time. I am happy with second place on the grid. I was in the single-lap qualifying a couple of times this year, but I never was on pole. Instead, I won twice and I hope I can repeat this tomorrow.”
Ekstrom said: “This shows that our performance was good. In Q4 I made no mistakes but it still wasn't quite enough. But even from grid position three I've got a chance of winning – and considering that I'd already taken off my helmet after Q1 and thought I was out, P3 is definitely okay.”
Di Resta was disappointed with his qualifying: “I struggled throughout the weekend to get the maximum out of my car and in the end I lacked about a tenth of a second to make it to the single-lap qualifying. We will now work on our race strategy so that I will be able to move up tomorrow.”