Andre Couto put his Alfa Romeo back atop the timesheets in Friday practice for the Guia touting car race at Macau, outpacing provisional pole sitter Simon Harrison by 0.350s
Couto remains confident despite the continued challenge of Harrison's Honda, although he remains unsure of the ultimate pace of the BMW runners.
"Everything is working well and I am pretty happy," said Couto. "I don't know what BMW are up to, but that is not my problem. I will just focus on going as fast as possible and then we will see what happens."
Franz Engstler was the fastest of the BMW runners in third, ahead of an unhappy Jorg Muller, who was more than three seconds off Couto's pace.
"It's tough," said Muller. "We are struggling with our set-up, much more than last year, and it feels very nervous with the rear end. I don't think we can close the gap to the cars ahead."
Marc Hennerici made it three BMW's in the top five, ahead of Nobuteru Taniguchi and 2002 winner Duncan Huisman.
JAS Motorsport's Alessandro Mariani says he was "amazed" by Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin's suggestion that Volvo's structure compared to Honda was key to its 2017 World Touring Car Championship success
Volvo gave the World Touring Car Championship a major boost when it announced it would enter the series, but its ambitions don't stop there. JACK COZENS examines its programme, the S60 and what its arrival means for the WTCC
The 2012 World Touring Car champion says he never had the money to race cars. Yet 2015 is his 11th season in the WTCC. He talks STUART CODLING through his journey from motorsport fan to paid professional - for little more than £100,000