Fairuz Fauzy celebrated his birthday by taking his and Mofaz Fortec's first World Series by Renault pole position after coming out on top in a close Superpole session at the all-new Motorland Aragon circuit.
The Malaysian driver, who still has a shot at the runners-up spot in the overall standings, emerged fastest in a session that would see the top eleven covered by less than a second.
Even so, Fauzy still commanded a comfortable two tenth advantage over Epsilon Euskadi's Chris van der Drift, the New Zealander putting in easily his best qualifying performance of the season as he looks to bring an occasionally tough rookie year to a decent close.
“It's my birthday, so this is my present to myself,” said Fauzy. “I'd like to thank my team, as we have really been on form since we got here. I can still finish second in the championship. To do that I absolutely must have one podium finish in the first race and a win on Sunday!”
With the title already decided in favour of Bertrand Baguette at the Nurburgring, attention turns to the battle for second in the standings, with Charles Pic currently ten points ahead of Jaime Alguersuari and 13 in front of James Walker.
Walker had been the driver in charge during the qualifying stages, with both he and P1 Motorsport team-mate Daniil Move topping their respective groups. However, the Jerseyman couldn't repeat that performance during Superpole, leaving him ninth on the grid, just one place short of a sprint race pole position. Nonetheless, he remains better placed than Tech 1 Racing's Pic, who could only manage 20th position.
Alguersuari, meanwhile, will start in fifth position for Carlin, just behind form man Jon Lancaster and new champion Baguette.
Move maintained his good qualifying record to grab sixth on the grid, just ahead of the day's surprise package, Federico Leo, the Italian – who is yet to score a point this season – going well beyond his previous best starting slot of 13th with seventh position.
It also means he will start the sprint race from the front row, alongside Oliver Turvey, who did Carlin Motorsport's hopes of overhauling Draco Racing in the team standings plenty of good by claiming pole position in the less lucrative encounter.
Elsewhere, former USR driver Greg Mansell was a strong tenth on the grid for his first outing with Comtec, ahead of early season leader Marcos Martinez and Brendon Hartley, the latter failing to set a time in Superpole after a mechanical problem.