Stoffel Vandoone and Nobuharu Matsushita succeeded in making it an all-ART front row for Saturday's feature race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria after seeing off a spirited threat from the pacy pair of Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin in qualifying at the 2.688-mile, nine-turn circuit on Friday afternoon.
It will be Vandoorne's seventh pole position in the last eight GP2 Saturday races, handing him the series' record for most pole positions won by a single driver. Perhaps even more importantly to the Belgian are the four championship points he receives for winning the qualifying session, now putting him 48 points clear in total from second place man Alexander Rossi (Racing Engineering) who will start Saturday's race from 12th position.
CLICK: Full GP2 qualifying times from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.
The early weather forecast for qualifying had been for rain and showers, but in fact the 30-minute session got underway with bright sunshine finally breaking through what had until this point been persistent cloud cover, meaning that all of the drivers were keen to get out of pit road and down to work as soon as possible, with the exception of Zoël Amberg who was declared unfit to take part in qualifying, meaning that the Swiss driver was unable turn a single lap all afternoon.
Also missing from the stream of cars exiting pit lane was the second MP Motorsport entry. A seemingly terminal breakdown in business relations between the team and former driver Sergio Canamasas earlier in the day meant that the car will be left unused in the garage this weekend.
It took two warm-up laps before the first remotely representative time of 1:15.296s was set by morning pacesetter Sergey Sirotkin, 0.223s faster than Racing Engineering's Alexander Rossi, with ART's Stoffel Vandoone in third. Vandoorne vaulted to the top with his next effort of 1:14.721s which put him just under two hundredths of a second ahead of Sirotkin's own improved lap, with DAMS' Pierre Gasly taking third from Russian Time's Mitch Evans.
After a couple of close encounters in morning practice saw him finish just outside the top ten, Richie Stanaway went fifth faster just in front of DAMS' Alex Lynn. Both drivers took a once place demotion when Vandoorne's ART team mate Matsushita popped into fourth place in the standings.
Sirotkin went faster still with his next run - and matched Vandoorne down to three decimal places. Spurred on, the Russian then pushed even harder and managed to trim a further hundredths off his time to take the provisional pole position, and while Vandoorne immediately tried to respond he was unable to go any faster before the mid-session interval.
At the midway point, Yelloly took advantage of a temporarily clear track to jump up to fourth place ahead of Matsushita with Norman Nato (Arden) in sixth followed by Artem Markelov and his team mate Mitch Evans, and Stanaway pushed down to ninth ahead of Lynn who was himself only a shade off half a second away from Sirotkin's benchmark time.
Once kitted out with a new set of supersort tyres, the cars headed back out with ten minutes remaining on the clock for their last qualifying efforts. There was an early improvement by Lynn who moved up to third place ahead of his team mate Gasly on the back of a storming third sector time, and then a rapid succession of laying laps saw the timing screens go into slot machine mode.
The winner of this outbreak of flying laps was Vandoorne who went to the top by 0.260s over Sirotkin with a lap of 1:14.174s, with Rio Haryanto (Campos Racing) making a big jump up to third place just two thousandths of a second ahead of Rafaelle Macriello (Trident) and Jordan King (Racing Engineering) with Lynn and Gasly pushed down to sixth and seventh ahead of Evans.
There was more to come, with Vandoorne's team mate Matsushita punching out a new flying lap to join the Belgian on the front row of the grid, and an improved effort from Gasly succeeding in pushing Sirotkin down to fourth. That left Haryanto down in fifth followed by Marciello, Yelloly and King in eighth as the chequered flag came out to call time on the session.
Campos Racing's Arthur Pic will start from ninth place after being rear-ended by the Trident of Nathanael Berthon in the closing minutes of qualifying. Lynn will have to be content with tenth place ahead of Evans, while Rossi faces an uphill battle to continue to carry the title fight to Vandoorne after ending up 12th on the grid having suffered from an early brake issue on the #8 car.
With Amberg unable to participate in qualifying, Simon Trummer will not be starting from dead last in his first outing for Hilmer Motorsport after taking over the #25 car from Johnny Cecotto Jr. He will start instead from 24th place on the grid, while Amberg is due to start from the pit lane assuming he's recovered in time and given a waiver by race stewards for not meeting the 107 per cent time in qualifying.
The 40-lap GP2 feature race 1 will get underway on Saturday afternoon at 3.40pm local time (2.40pm BST) following qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Austria. The shorter 28-lap sprint race 2 takes place on Sunday morning at 10.35am local time (9.35am BST).
The GP3 Series is also in action for its second round of 2015. Practice will be held at 5.50pm (4.50pm BST) this evening with qualifying on Saturday morning at 9.45am (8.45am BST). The 40-minute race 1 gets the green flag on Saturday afternoon at 5.20pm (4.20pm BST) and the 30-minute race 2 is on Sunday morning at 9.25am (8.25am BST).
See full GP2 qualifying times from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.