Gabriele Tarquini went quickest in the first World Touring Car Championship free practice session at Imola this morning
SEAT set the pace throughout most of the session with reigning champion Yvan Muller leading the way for much of the half hour.
Tom Coronel leapt to the top of the timesheet in his independent SEAT Leon with 10 minutes remaining and looked set to retain the spot until the end.
But Tarquini, who is from Giulianova 150km south of Imola, unleashed a huge improvement on his final quick lap to lower the bar from Coronel's 1m57.2s to 1m56.6s.
Alex Zanardi - from Bologna just 20km away - then made it an Italian 1-2 in the last minute of the session, slotting into second ahead of Muller, who had improved to knock Coronel down to fourth.
Augusto Farfus was fifth fastest, ahead of fellow BMW driver Sergio Hernandez, with Jordi Gene's SEAT leading the Chevrolets of Alain Menu and Rob Huff.
Jorg Muller completed the top 10 for BMW, while the third Italian driver, Nicola Larini, was 11th ahead of Rickard Rydell and Andy Priaulx.
Tiago Monteiro was 14th in the fifth works SEAT, with Coronel's closest independent class rivals Felix Porteiro and Stefano D'Aste 15th and 16th in their BMWs, ahead of James Thompson in the first of the Ladas.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap 1. Gabriele Tarquini SEAT 1m56.660s 2. Alex Zanardi BMW 1m56.947s + 0.287s 3. Yvan Muller SEAT 1m57.030s + 0.370s 4. Tom Coronel SEAT 1m57.297s + 0.637s 5. Augusto Farfus BMW 1m57.370s + 0.710s 6. Sergio Hernandez BMW 1m57.391s + 0.731s 7. Jordi Gene SEAT 1m57.629s + 0.969s 8. Alain Menu Chevrolet 1m57.631s + 0.971s 9. Robert Huff Chevrolet 1m57.763s + 1.103s 10. Jorg Muller BMW 1m57.789s + 1.129s 11. Nicola Larini Chevrolet 1m57.791s + 1.131s 12. Rickard Rydell SEAT 1m57.810s + 1.15 s 13. Andy Priaulx BMW 1m57.872s + 1.212s 14. Tiago Monteiro SEAT 1m57.901s + 1.241s 15. Felix Porteiro BMW 1m58.133s + 1.473s 16. Stefano D'Aste BMW 1m58.216s + 1.556s 17. James Thompson Lada 1m58.260s + 1.600s 18. Mehdi Bennani SEAT 1m58.554s + 1.894s 19. Franz Engstler BMW 1m58.687s + 2.027s 20. Jaap van Lagen Lada 1m58.874s + 2.214s 21. Kristian Poulsen BMW 1m59.477s + 2.817s 22. Tom Boardman SEAT 1m59.483s + 2.823s 23. Andrea Larini SEAT 1m59.611s + 2.951s 24. Kirill Ladygin Lada 1m59.743s + 3.083s 25. Fabio Fabiani BMW 2m03.932s + 7.272s
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