Epic Racing's Albert Costa claimed his maiden pole position in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for the final race of 2011 at Barcelona today.
The 2009 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup champion has a history of struggling to raise a budget, and has raced for the past three seasons on a combination of prize money, limited backing and support from his teams.
Costa, who qualified on the front row in Saturday's race before colliding on the first lap with Jake Rosenzweig (Mofaz), is conscious that this weekend's meeting may be his last opportunity in single-seaters.
"Yesterday night after I went to bed I said to my cousin, who was sharing a room with me, 'Man, tomorrow I don't have anything to lose, because I have lost everything today, so I am going to push like hell,'" said Costa.
"If I take a risk and go out, well, that's racing. But I will push because maybe this is my last race. Everybody needs to know I am here for racing, not to say 'I am driver and this is a good life.' I have given everything, and at the moment this is the result."
Race one victor Robert Wickens will join Costa on the front row of this afternoon's race. The Carlin racer carries a slender nine-point lead over his only rival for the drivers' championship, team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
Vergne left it late to haul himself up to an eventual fifth spot, and had been demoted to 24th position with just three minutes of the half-hour session remaining.
Both title protagonists will be aiming to emulate former Carlin FR3.5 driver Sebastian Vettel, whose Formula 1 world championship celebrations were played out in the Carlin awning after qualifying.
KMP Racing's Anton Nebylitskiy enjoyed a marked upturn in form to qualify third, and is well-placed to improve on his season best result of sixth place. GP3 graduate Nick Yelloly was just 0.052 seconds adrift of Nebylitskiy, and will join the Russian on the outside of the second row.
After a quiet run of races, former Italian Formula 3 champion Daniel Zampieri demonstrated that his Friday practice pace was no aberration to qualify a solid sixth for BVM Target.
American Rosenzweig, perhaps, should also have been at the sharp end. In the final meeting for Mofaz's FR3.5 team, Rosenzweig held sixth place after the first runs on new tyres. Last year's Spa pole winner was just 0.1s adrift of Costa on his second set of tyres before suffering a spin.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Albert Costa Epic 1m32.343s
2. Robert Wickens Carlin 1m32.599s + 0.256s
3. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 1m32.899s + 0.556s
4. Nick Yelloly Pons 1m32.951s + 0.608s
5. Jean-Eric Vergne Carlin 1m33.096s + 0.753s
6. Daniel Zampieri BVM Target 1m33.212s + 0.869s
7. Alexander Rossi Fortec 1m33.243s + 0.900s
8. Nathanael Berthon ISR 1m33.296s + 0.953s
9. Stephane Richelmi Draco 1m33.390s + 1.047s
10. Sergio Canamasas BVM Target 1m33.403s + 1.060s
11. Daniel de Jong Comtec 1m33.460s + 1.117s
12. Kevin Korjus Tech 1 1m33.462s + 1.119s
13. Brendon Hartley Gravity-Charouz 1m33.482s + 1.139s
14. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m33.507s + 1.164s
15. Daniil Move P1 1m33.563s + 1.220s
16. Fairuz Fauzy Mofaz 1m33.632s + 1.289s
17. Oliver Webb Pons 1m33.661s + 1.318s
18. Nelson Panciatici KMP 1m33.740s + 1.397s
19. Cesar Ramos Fortec 1m33.784s + 1.441s
20. Adrien Tambay Draco 1m33.803s + 1.460s
21. Lewis Williamson ISR 1m33.818s + 1.475s
22. Jake Rosenzweig Mofaz 1m33.835s + 1.492s
23. Arthur Pic Tech 1 1m33.936s + 1.593s
24. Jan Charouz Gravity-Charouz 1m33.943s + 1.600s
25. Sten Pentus Epic 1m34.097s + 1.754s
26. Daniel McKenzie Comtec 1m34.351s + 2.008s