Tom Coronel stole top spot with a last-gasp effort in the first World Touring Cars practice session on the streets of Porto.
The ROAL BMW man snuck ahead of championship leader Yvan Muller's Chevrolet as the chequered flag flew, setting a 2m08.135s to go just over one tenth clear at the head of the standings.
Behind Muller, new Chevrolet recruit Pepe Oriola - the series' youngest winner - was third fastest in what was his first session since switching from SEAT to the Cruze.
The Spaniard had been top at the halfway mark, but was bumped down as Muller and then Coronel improved.
Honda's works duo Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, both benefitting from a 30kg weight break for the Civics, were fourth and fifth respectively.
Norbert Michelisz in the Zengo-run Civic was just one tenth of a second down the road in sixth, still within 0.5s of Coronel's benchmark.
Early pacesetter Rob Huff, a winner the last time the WTCC visited the Portuguese street circuit in 2011, was eventually pushed down to seventh.
He was still a long way clear of eighth-place man Tom Chilton, who survived a brush with the wall four minutes from the end of the session.
He was spared the title of first crasher by seconds, however, as moments earlier Hugo Valente had misjudged his braking for Turn 4 and slid off, nose-first, into the barriers.
Both men were able to return to the circuit, with Valente securing 12th at the flag.
BMW locked out the final top 10 spots through Stefano D'Aste and Mehdi Bennani, who were separated by just 0.001s.
Lada meanwhile struggled, with James Thompson its best finisher down in 21st.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 2m08.135s
2. Yvan Muller RML Chevrolet 2m08.334s +0.199s
3. Pepe Oriola Tuenti Chevrolet 2m08.385s +0.250s
4. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 2m08.441s +0.306s
5. Tiago Monteiro Honda 2m08.490s +0.355s
6. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 2m08.612s +0.477s
7. Rob Huff Munnich SEAT 2m08.722s +0.587s
8. Tom Chilton RML Chevrolet 2m09.294s +1.159s
9. Stefano D'Aste PB BMW 2m09.412s +1.277s
10. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 2m09.413s +1.278s
11. Fernando Monje Campos SEAT 2m09.547s +1.412s
12. Hugo Valente Campos SEAT 2m09.684s +1.549s
13. Marc Basseng Munnich SEAT 2m09.773s +1.638s
14. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 2m09.797s +1.662s
15. Nikolay Karamishev Campos SEAT 2m09.841s +1.706s
16. Michel Nykjaer Nika Chevrolet 2m10.022s +1.887s
17. Darryl O'Young ROAL BMW 2m10.084s +1.949s
18. Fredy Barth Wiechers BMW 2m10.564s +2.429s
19. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 2m10.780s +2.645s
20. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 2m10.780s +2.645s
21. James Thompson Lada 2m10.912s +2.777s
22. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 2m10.967s +2.832s
23. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 2m11.083s +2.948s
24. James Nash Bamboo Chevrolet 2m11.169s +3.034s
25. Rene Munnich Munnich SEAT 2m13.206s +5.071s