Outgoing World Rallycross champion Mattias Ekstrom leads the penultimate round of the 2017 series in Germany where he claimed his maiden title last year.
The current DTM points leader was fastest in Q1 on a drying Estering circuit near Buxtehude, before winning his race in Q2 to finish second to Timmy Hansen overall but secure top spot in the standings.
Ekstrom passed EKS team-mate Toomas Heikkinen at the first corner of the pair's Q2 race, Heikkinen having made the best start, as double-champion Petter Solberg ran wide.
Returning to the driving seat just five days after an operation on his collarbone - following the crash which put the former WRC champion in hospital at the Latvian round a fortnight ago - Solberg drove the team's Volkswagen Motorsport-built Polo GTi for the first time on Saturday morning and was immediately at the front of the order in free practice.
Fifth in Q1 after losing out at the infamously challenging first corner, Solberg pushed hard after running wide at Turn One of Q2 from the outside of the grid but climbed to second behind Ekstrom by the finish to be third overall and hold the same place overnight, behind Hansen.
The Peugeot-Hansen driver had his best day one for some time, setting his first fastest qualifying time since the British round of the series at Lydden Hill, while his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb, struggled in traffic.
Loeb was one of the drivers in his Q1 race to make the best start before losing out at Turn One, entering the corner alongside EKS driver Reinis Nitiss and then running wide.
The nine-time World Rally champion then spent two laps behind STARD racer Janis Baumanis and was 18th fastest.
He again raced behind Baumanis in Q2, but the pair's fifth and seventh times respectively elevated them to 12th and 13th overall.
Champion Johan Kristoffersson also had a day stuck in traffic, having made two relatively poor starts by his own high standards.
He pressured DA Racing's Davy Jeanney hard in their Q1 race, Jeanney deputising for Jean-Baptise Durbourg in the event, before then following compatriot Kevin Hansen in Q2.
Driving the 2016 version of Peugeot's 208 WRX, outgoing European champion Kevin Hansen was twice sixth fastest and holds the same position overall.
Global Rallycross Championship driver Sebastian Eriksson makes his second World Rallycross start of the year in Germany and was an impressive third fastest in Q1, driving OlsbergsMSE's Ford Fiesta.
A 13th finish in Q2 means Eriksson is eighth overall, one place up on 2016 Germany winner and namesake, Kevin Eriksson.
Former OMSE driver Niclas Gronholm had a frustrating day. Having set the fastest time halfway through practice he lost time on wet tyres in Q1 and suffered a puncture in Q2. He lies 21st overnight.