Newly-crowned champion Yvan Muller claimed his sixth pole position of the 2013 World Touring Car Championship with a dominant performance in qualifying at Shanghai.
Chevrolet meanwhile locked out the top six positions, with Zengo Honda driver Norbert Michelisz - the best of the rest in seventh - more than one second down on Muller.
There was time for just one run in Q2, which meant no one was able to respond once Muller surged ahead with a 1m53.486s.
Team-mate Tom Chilton was second, three tenths down on Muller, with the RML pair the only men to break below the 1m54s mark.
Tuenti driver Pepe Oriola claimed a share of the second row alongside Bamboo's James Nash, whose team-mate Alex MacDowall will line up alongside series returnee Rickard Rydell on row three.
Michelisz meanwhile beat SEAT's Rob Huff to seventh, while his factory counterparts Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro locked out ninth and 10th respectively - and therefore secured an all-Honda front row for the reverse-grid second race.
Thed Bjork had secured Volvo's progress through from Q1, but as a one-off entrant he is unable to earn points and therefore had to miss the second part of qualifying.
He was therefore set to start from 12th, only to be issued a five-place penalty after his car was found to be underweight in post-qualifying checks.
Franz Engstler's 11th place - which represents the first time the 52-year-old has made the Q2 cut this season - is unaffected.
The German will now share the sixth row with Tom Coronel, the man he kept out in the fight for the final berth in the pole shootout.
Coronel had a chance to deny Engstler as the chequered flag fell in Q1, but fell four thousandths of a second short despite improving on his last-gasp effort.
The Dutchman will start just ahead of Lada's James Thompson. The Briton had been a permanent top five fixture in practice but struggled for pace on the new tyres and wound up missing the Q2 cut by just over one tenth of a second.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Yvan Muller RML Chevrolet 1m53.486s 2. Tom Chilton RML Chevrolet 1m53.868s +0.382s 3. Pepe Oriola Tuenti Chevrolet 1m54.008s +0.522s 4. James Nash Bamboo Chevrolet 1m54.034s +0.548s 5. Alex MacDowall Bamboo Chevrolet 1m54.054s +0.568s 6. Rickard Rydell Nika Chevrolet 1m54.215s +0.729s 7. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m54.576s +1.090s 8. Rob Huff Munnich SEAT 1m54.623s +1.137s 9. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m54.666s +1.180s 10. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m54.959s +1.473s 11. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m55.624s +2.138s 12. Thed Bjork Polestar Volvo* 13. Tom Coronel ROAL BMW 1m55.204s Q1 14. James Thompson Lada 1m55.316s Q1 15. Marc Basseng Munnich SEAT 1m55.434s Q1 16. Hugo Valente Campos SEAT 1m55.535s Q1 17. Charles Ng Engstler BMW 1m55.581s Q1 18. Darryl O'Young ROAL BMW 1m55.591s Q1 19. Tom Boardman Special Tuning SEAT 1m55.610s Q1 20. Fredy Barth Wiechers BMW 1m55.719s Q1 21. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m55.920s Q1 22. Rene Munnich Munnich SEAT 1m56.171s Q1 23. Fernando Monje Campos SEAT 1m56.282s Q1 24. Mehdi Bennani Proteam BMW 1m56.359s Q1 25. Yukinori Taniguchi Wiechers BMW 1m57.128s Q1 26. Stefano D'Aste PB BMW 1m58.448s Q1 27. Henry Ho Engstler BMW 1m58.865s Q1 28. Filipe de Souza China Dragon Chevrolet 1m59.230s Q1 29. Ng Kin Veng China Dragon Chevrolet 2m00.337s Q1 30. Ka Lok Mak RPM BMW 2m01.838s Q1 31. Jeronimo Badaraco Son Veng Chevrolet
* Docked five places due to car being underweight.