Audi's Rene Rast took his eighth pole of the DTM season at Hockenheim as 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button took a surprise sixth as the best-placed SUPER GT driver.
After qualifying started in wet conditions, the final few minutes played out on a drying track as the field made late switches to the slick Hankook tyre - leading to a flurry of late improvements.
Rast initially battled BMW's Timo Glock, who would eventually finish qualifying seventh, in trading places at the top of the times and the 2019 DTM champion then held off a late rapid lap from Marco Wittmann to take pole.
Rast was one of several drivers to skate off track at the final corner, experiencing the same slippery runoff that proved controversial during F1's German Grand Prix earlier this year.
Wittmann fell just 0.127 seconds short of Rast's pole position time, while Mike Rockenfeller was another late improver and took third.
WRT Audi's Jonathan Aberdein continued his impressive qualifying pace to take fourth ahead of Loic Duval, who went off into the gravel following the end of the session.
- SUPER GT TAKES ON DTM
- Button's chances could be out of his hands
- DTM and SUPER GT decide against equalising cars
Button was continually the leading SUPER GT driver and he had lifted his Kunimitsu Honda to the fringes of the top 10 midway through the session.
Following a pitstop to switch to slicks, a cautious first lap left him down in 16th.
Button then surged to third with a time of 1m46.206s, just over 0.6s down on the pole time, before he was shuffled back to sixth.
Button's previous closest time to the leader of the DTM field had been 2.1s away in second practice.
Ahead of Saturday's running the DTM and SUPER GT had decided against enforcing a Balance of Performance to equalise the two car types' pace for the first race.
Audi's Robin Frijns was eighth, despite fighting for the leading spots early in the session, with BMW's Sheldon van der Linde and his team-mate Joel Eriksson rounding out the top 10.
Rast's 2019 title rival Nico Muller was 11th ahead of the leading R-Motorsport Aston Martin of Ferdinand Habsburg.
As has been the case in 2019, wet conditions played into the hands of the underpowered Aston Martin Vantage DTM and its drivers fought for the leading positions in the worst of the weather.
Habsburg's team-mates Daniel Juncadella and Jake Dennis took turns in provisional pole position before ending up 12th and 13th respectively, with Paul di Resta in 15th.
Following qualifying, R-Motorsport made a request to the DTM technical delegate to "open the sealing of three additional engines".
While it is unclear if this means R-Motorsport will replace engines in its four-car team, it means the four cars cannot score points for the manufacturers' championship in Saturday's race.
R-Motorsport has made the request on several occasions during 2019 and BMW did so at Brands Hatch.
The final two SUPER GT runners filled out the final positions on the grid.
Ryo Hirakawa placed his TOM'S Lexus in 20th, with Tsugio Matsuda's NISMO-entered Nissan 21st.
|6||Jenson Button||Team Kunimitsu||Honda||1m46.206s||0.654s|
|9||Sheldon van der Linde||RBM||BMW||1m46.383s||0.831s|
|12||Ferdinand Habsburg||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||1m46.791s||1.239s|
|13||Daniel Juncadella||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||1m46.986s||1.434s|
|14||Jake Dennis||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||1m46.988s||1.436s|
|16||Paul Di Resta||R-Motorsport||Aston Martin||1m47.090s||1.538s|
|20||Ryo Hirakawa||Lexus Gazoo Racing Team KeePer TOM'S||Lexus||1m49.181s||3.629s|