Ultimate Signature's Fabio Carbone continued his team's rising fortunes - established in recent British F3 and World Series events - by claiming pole position for the weekend's main event at the Hungaroring.
The Brazilian came out on top of a slightly unusual looking Superpole group, heading expected frontrunners Julien Jousse and Robert Wickens in the final reckoning.
It took a few laps before the twelve Superpole drivers started hitting the sort of pace that would challenge for top spot. Aleix Alcaraz, freshly installed at Pons Racing, took the early lead, followed by Fairuz Fauzy and Charles Pic, but the situation didn't take long to change.
Jousse launched the first meaningful attack on the times to take provisional pole ahead of Alvaro Barba and Alexandre Marsoin, but Carbone quickly took charge of the session with a lap in 1min 31.696secs. Nobody came close to challenging the Brazilian, who gave the Ultimate Signature team its first pole position in the category as a result.
"This is a great way to pay back the team," Carbone admitted, "We're always quick in collective testing but, until now, we've missed out in qualifying. Today, everything was working well!
"Our car is perfect but, now, we need to prove it in the race. This afternoon, I need to avoid the pitfalls and score some points, but I can't wait for the start of the second race. In pole, you can really hope for a good result."
Jousse's time was enough to keep the Frenchman on the front row, with Wickens and Miguel Molina slotting in behind the Tech 1 driver. Championship leader, Giedo van der Garde, only managed sixth position, while Pic's eighth place means that he will start from pole in the weekend's first race.
"I could feel that pole was in reach, I could really go after it," a disappointed Jousse commented, "The car was great, and I set a good time this morning, but unfortunately I was hindered at the end of the session during my fastest laps. It's frustrating!"
Wickens reported minor hydraulic problems throughout the day, but insisted that his Carlin team was 'lying in wait'.
"We're competitive, but it's quite difficult to overtake here," the Canadian admitted, "I need to stay calm and, above all, finish the races!"
Carbone had only been fourth fastest in his qualifying group, but headed the order before a late shake-up saw Jousse snatch the upper hand ahead of van der Garde and Alvaro Barba. The latter's Prema team-mate, Molina, and Pons' practice pacesetter Marcos Martinez were the two other drivers to qualify for Superpole, leaving expected frontrunners Bertrand Baguette and Mikhail Aleshin to miss out.
Marco Barba began the second group's session by spinning off the track, ending up in the gravel trap and bringing out the red flag. When the session restarted, Pic headed of Fauzy and Marco Bonanomi, before Wickens and surprise package Alexandre Marsoin improved their times to climb into first and second places. Bonanomi took third, ahead of Pic, Alcaraz and Fauzy, leaving Silverstone winner Salvador Duran among the disappointed drivers missing out.