Champion Jose Maria Lopez topped the World Touring Car Championship testing session in Qatar ahead of Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz, as the field enjoyed its first taste of Losail.
In a frenetic final few minutes, works Citroen driver Lopez usurped Sebastien Loeb Racing counterpart Mehdi Bennani with a best lap of 2m02.316s in his C-Elysee.
Michelisz, who has the chance to claim his second WTCC Independents' crown this weekend in his Honda, slotted into second as the chequered flag flew with an effort just over a quarter of a second shy of Lopez's best time.
That beat Bennani - the Hungarian's only rival for the Independents' title - into third.
Sebastien Loeb had led the opening stage of the session in his Citroen C-Elysee, before the session was brought to a halt after 10 minutes when Tiago Monteiro stopped his Honda Civic at Turn 6.
Loeb, making his final outing for Citroen this weekend, ended the session fifth fastest behind Hugo Valente, who was the best-placed of the Chevrolet runners.
Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller were sixth and seventh in the remaining works Citroens, having both traded fastest times with Loeb before the late flurry of laps, while Nicolas Lapierre was the only Lada driver to make the top 10 in eighth.
John Filippi was an impressive ninth in the second Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze ahead of ROAL Motorsport's Tom Chilton.
Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah was 16th in his first competitive WTCC session, finishing with a best time that was 3.956s off Lopez's benchmark.
Monteiro aside, Rob Huff was the only man not to set a competitive time, the Briton's Lada Vesta suffering a gearbox oil leak early on in the session.
|1||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||2m02.316s||-||12|
|2||Norbert Michelisz||Zengo Motorsport||Honda||2m02.602s||0.286s||11|
|3||Mehdi Bennani||Sebastien Loeb Racing||Citroen||2m02.805s||0.489s||13|
|4||Hugo Valente||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||2m03.361s||1.045s||11|
|5||Sebastien Loeb||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||2m03.405s||1.089s||12|
|6||Ma Qing Hua||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||2m03.460s||1.144s||12|
|7||Yvan Muller||Citroen Total WTCC||Citroen||2m03.600s||1.284s||13|
|8||Nicolas Lapierre||LADA Sport Rosneft||Lada||2m03.788s||1.472s||10|
|9||John Filippi||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||2m04.052s||1.736s||10|
|10||Tom Chilton||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||2m04.583s||2.267s||11|
|11||Tom Coronel||ROAL Motorsport||Chevrolet||2m04.596s||2.280s||13|
|12||Nicky Catsburg||LADA Sport Rosneft||Lada||2m04.886s||2.570s||12|
|13||Gregoire Demoustier||Craft-Bamboo Racing||Chevrolet||2m05.184s||2.868s||11|
|14||Stefano D'Aste||All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport||Chevrolet||2m05.269s||2.953s||11|
|15||Gabriele Tarquini||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||2m05.526s||3.210s||7|
|16||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Campos Racing||Chevrolet||2m06.272s||3.956s||10|
|17||Rob Huff||LADA Sport Rosneft||Lada||4m47.576s||2m45.260s||3|
|18||Tiago Monteiro||Honda Racing Team JAS||Honda||-||-||1|