Roldan Rodriguez upset the form back by snaring a maiden GP2 Series pole position for the first round of the Asia Series in China.
Most had predicted Kamui Kobayashi, who has been unbeaten in testing since the end of the 2008 European season, to be the man to beat in qualifying around the Shanghai International Circuit but he had to settle for second behind the Brazilian.
Rodriguez, who is embarking on his first event since being reunited with Piquet GP, hit the front of the field with his very final lap to deny Kobayashi by a comfortable two tenths of a second.
For Rodriguez, who has two seasons of GP2 racing under his belt, this is his first pole position in GP2 machinery.
Despite missing out on what would have also been a maiden pole position, form man Kobayashi remains well placed alongside him on the grid.
After a season spent struggling to adapt to the new GP2 chassis, Javier Villa is enjoying his time back in the first generation machine, albeit with Super Nova Racing, by qualifying third on the grid.
Sakon Yamamoto will start fourth for reigning champions ART, ahead of the best placed rookie, new World Series by Renault champion Giedo van der Garde. Vitaly Petrov will start sixth for main series champions Campos, ahead of the second DAMS car of Jérôme d'Ambrosio and Durango's Davide Valsecchi.
Earl Bamber, meanwhile, was an impressive ninth quickest in the Meritus machine, the young New Zealander making big gains over his practice performance. Luca Filippi too was a big improver for BCN to round out the top ten.
The session was not without drama though with James Jakes crashing heavily in the early stages, the Brit prompting the red flags and leaving the Super Nova team substantial repair work to do. Hamad Al Fardan also caused a red flag period when he spun in the middle of track. The Bahraini driver will start 14th.
Meanwhile, it was a nightmare session for FMS International. Although Kevin Nai Chia Chen's position on the back row was expected, he will be joined by team-mate Andreas Zuber after the UAE-domiciled driver ground to a halt on his warm-up lap and failed to set a time.