Alain Menu continued his late season charge by taking his third World Touring Car Championship pole position of the year at Shanghai.
Menu was fastest in both parts of qualifying, his Q2 best of 1m54.383s defeating his Chevrolet team-mate Yvan Muller, by just 0.026s.
The bonus points gained by Menu for his pole has narrowed his deficit to Muller in the championship to 37 points.
Norbert Michelisz denied an anticipated lock-out of the top three spots by Chevrolet by taking third - and first among the independents - in his Zengo BMW.
Michelisz bounced back from a torrid meeting in Suzuka a fortnight ago to egde out Rob Huff's factory Chevrolet by 0.09s.
The result means that championship challenger Huff has unwelcome additional work to do from fourth on the race-one grid to take the fight to his team-mates.
Colin Turkington was a commendable fifth quickest on the maiden outing of WSR Chevrolet.
Suzuka reversed-grid victor Stefano d'Aste took sixth in his BMW, ahead of Independents' Trophy title protagonist Pepe Oriola.
In contrast to the leading runners, the Lukoil SEAT drivers elected to set their Q2 times towards the end of the session.
Former WTCC champion Gabriele Tarquini experimented with a low-downforce wing setting to take ninth place, and the outside front row slot for race two.
Chasing his first win of the season, Tom Coronel picked up the reversed-grid pole position for the ROAL BMW team courtesy of his 10th spot in Q2.
In the second race weekend for the works Honda team, Tiago Monteiro could only manage 17th fastest as the JAS-run outfit continued to develop the Civic WTCC.
Bamboo Chevrolet man Darryl O'Young, who started the Shanghai weekend with victory in the supporting Audi R8 one-make race, missed the Q2 cut by 0.1s.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m54.383s
2. Yvan Muller Chevrolet 1m54.409s + 0.026s
3. Norbert Michelisz Zengo BMW 1m54.523s + 0.140s
4. Rob Huff Chevrolet 1m54.582s + 0.199s
5. Colin Turkington WSR Chevrolet 1m54.777s + 0.394s
6. Stefano d'Aste Wiechers BMW 1m55.142s + 0.759s
7. Pepe Oriola SUNRED SEAT 1m55.325s + 0.942s
8. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 1m55.378s + 0.995s
9. Gabriele Tarquini Lukoil SEAT 1m55.451s + 1.068s
10. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m55.720s + 1.337s
11. Aleksei Dudukalo Lukoil SEAT 1m55.840s + 1.457s
12. Fredy Barth SUNRED SEAT 1m56.296s + 1.913s
13. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m55.616s Q1
14. Darryl O'Young Bamboo Chevrolet 1m55.637s Q1
15. James Nash Arena Ford 1m55.658s Q1
16. Fernando Monje SUNRED SEAT 1m55.734s Q1
17. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m55.742s Q1
18. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 1m55.851s Q1
19. Alberto Cerqui ROAL BMW 1m55.973s Q1
20. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 1m56.012s Q1
21. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m56.577s Q1
22. Tom Chilton Arena Ford 1m56.904s Q1
23. Hugo Valente SUNRED SEAT 1m57.947s Q1
24. Eric Kwong Look Fong Chevrolet 1m59.352s Q1
25. Kelvin Leong Song Veng Honda 2m00.864s Q1
26. Kin Veng Ng China Dragon Chevrolet 2m00.969s Q1
27. Filipe de Souza China Dragon Chevrolet 2m01.059s Q1
28. Alex Liu Engstler BMW 2m04.374s Q1