On a slippery tarmac that was drying after the night showers, lap times were dramatically improved as the session went on.
Eventually José María López posted a fastest lap of 1:49.494 with only a few moments left on the clock, leaving his Citroën Total team-mate Yvan Muller 1.28 seconds behind.
Except for this huge gap from the Argentine, the rest of the field was close, with nine tenths covering the positions from 2nd (Muller) to 11th (Hugo Valente).
Tom Chilton in the ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML clocked the third fastest lap (1:50.905) ahead of Tiago Monteiro’s Honda Civic (1:51.071) and the third Citroën man Sébastien Loeb (1:51.155). Gabriele Tarquini (1:51.182), Mehdi Bennani (1:51.238), Gianni Morbidelli (1:51.517), Dušan Borković (1:51.562) and local hero Norbert Michelisz (1:51.564) rounded off the top-ten.
Rob Huff was the fastest of the LADA drivers, in 14th position.
In the TC2T class, Franz Engstler set the fastest lap (1:55.786) surviving a hot moment at Turn 6, when he lost control of the car and brushed the Armco barrier.