Augusto Farfus claimed his second DTM pole in a row in an ultra-close qualifying session at Hockenheim, while Gary Paffett crucially beat his title rival Bruno Spengler to snatch second on the grid.
After setting the pace in Q3, Farfus was the last to set a time in the single-lap Q4 shoot-out; the Brazilian emerging just 0.002 seconds up on Paffett at the second sector.
However, he benefited from Paffett having run wide at the Sachs Kurve to take pole by 0.121s in his RBM BMW.
Despite locking-up and missing the Sachs apex, Paffett's lap was still good enough to give the HWA Mercedes man second; 0.006s ahead of Spengler's Schnitzer BMW.
Spengler trails Paffett by three points in the championship, but will take the title if he beats his rival on Sunday and finishes inside the top two.
Abt Sportsline driver Mattias Ekstrom, the first man to set a time in Q4, will start fourth in the best of the Audis.
Joey Hand caused a major surprise, qualifying fifth in the top RMG BMW. Behind the American were his team-mate Martin Tomczyk, who will lose his champion tag on Sunday.
Dirk Werner, Timo Scheider and Edoardo Mortara were next up. Jamie Green, who retains an outside chance of the title, 18 points in arrears of Paffett with 25 up for grabs on Sunday, completed the top 10.
Ralf Schumacher starts 17th, the HWA driver having been knocked out of a Q2 place by Scheider by just 0.006s in the dying seconds of the opening session. He was one of five Mercedes drivers to qualify in the bottom six.
David Coulthard and Susie Wolff, both of whom are taking part in their final DTM races this weekend, made up the last row.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Augusto Farfus RBM BMW 1m34.140s 2. Gary Paffett HWA Mercedes 1m34.261s + 0.121s 3. Bruno Spengler Schnitzer BMW 1m34.268s + 0.128s 4. Mattias Ekstrom Abt Audi 1m34.627s + 0.487s 5. Joey Hand RMG BMW 1m34.031s Q3 6. Martin Tomczyk RMG BMW 1m34.050s Q3 7. Dirk Werner Schnitzer BMW 1m34.079s Q3 8. Timo Scheider Abt Audi 1m34.133s Q3 9. Edoardo Mortara Rosberg Audi 1m34.159s Q3 10. Jamie Green HWA Mercedes 1m34.251s Q3 11. Filipe Albuquerque Rosberg Audi 1m34.288s Q2 12. Mike Rockenfeller Phoenix Audi 1m34.304s Q2 13. Christian Vietoris HWA Mercedes 1m34.358s Q2 14. Andy Priaulx RBM BMW 1m34.375s Q2 15. Adrien Tambay Abt Audi 1m34.477s Q2 16. Rahel Frey Abt Audi 1m34.720s Q2 17. Ralf Schumacher HWA Mercedes 1m34.722s Q1 18. Robert Wickens Mucke Mercedes 1m34.723s Q1 19. Roberto Merhi Persson Mercedes 1m35.032s Q1 20. Miguel Molina Phoenix Audi 1m35.080s Q1 21. David Coulthard Mucke Mercedes 1m35.275s Q1 22. Susie Wolff Persson Mercedes 1m35.325s Q1