Marcos Martinez scored a shock pole position for Sevilla at Brands Hatch for the seventh round of Superleague Formula.
Former Formula Renault 3.5 star Martinez, whose form has been steadily improving of late but languishes near the bottom of the championship, defeated John Martin of Beijing Guoan by just 0.02sec in a thrilling final. Martin had run wide at Paddock, and got sideways at Surtees, but his 1:13.876s was still a highly competitive lap time, but Martinez topped him with 1:13.856s.
"It's a very special moment," said Martinez. "It's my first time here but it's one of my favorite circuits now! It's very fast, very fluid. I've been unlucky this year, with lots of crashes and problems, but this is a great result for me and the team."
Martin said: "I'm just a bit disappointed, I messed up going into Surtees. We've been trying to dial out the oversteer all day, but to miss out by two hundredths is tough. It's a special track, I love it."
In the semi-finals, Martinez lapped even faster as his 1:13.624s effort knocked out title protagonist Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur), his lap just over a quarter of a second faster than the home hero.
Martin won the second semi, beating Sporting Lisbon's Andy Soucek by 0.287s despite again flirting with the Paddock gravel trap.
In the quarter finals, Dolby beat Franck Montagny (Bordeaux) by the dominant margin of 0.807sec. Martin was effectively unopposed in his quarter final, as Julien Jousse (Roma) ground to a halt at Westfield on his flying lap with a technical problem.
Soucek beat Chris van der Drift (Olympiacos) by 0.152s, turning the lap around with a brilliant final sector after van der Drift had headed him early on. Series leader Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) was the big name to fall at this stage, as his trip through the Paddock gravel trap gifted an easy win to Martinez.
In the pre-knockout stages, Martin topped Group A with a lap of 1m13.817s, a couple of hundredths clear of Martinez, Soucek and Montagny. The latter left it late to make it through to the knockout rounds, toppling Tristan Gommendy (Galatasaray) by 0.167sec on his very last lap.
Gommendy was joined on the sidelines for the knock-out stages by Duncan Tappy (Flamengo), Davide Rigon (who paid for his practice crash this morning for Anderlecht), Robert Doornbos (ditto, for Corinthians) and Maria de Villota (Atletico Madrid).
In Group B, labeled the 'group of death' due to its strength in depth, Dolby produced a superb 1:13.399s - faster than anyone else all weekend - to beat van der Drift, Buurman and Jousse.
Those to fall were Max Wissel (FC Basel), Narain Karthikeyan (whose PSV Eindhoven ran onto the grass at Sheene), Alvaro Parente (FC Porto), a gutted James Walker (Liverpool) and Franck Perera (Lyon).
"Very disappointing," said Walker. "We tried a few things and it didn't deliver the pace we expected, and I just set the same time as I had this morning."
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 1m13.856s
2. John Martin Beijing Guoan 1m13.876s +0.020
3. Andy Soucek Sporting Clube 1m14.181s +0.325
4. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur 1m13.875s +0.019
5. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan 1m18.155s +4.299
6. Chris van der Drift Olympiacos 1m14.417s +0.561
7. Julien Jousse AS Roma no time (in final)
8. Franck Montagny Girondins de Bordeaux 1m14.585s +0.729
9. Max Wissel FC Basel 1m14.185s +0.329
10. Tristan Gommendy Galatasaray 1m14.133s +0.277
11. Narain Karthikeyan PSV Eindhoven 1m14.262s +0.406
12. Duncan Tappy Flamengo 1m14.292s +0.436
13. Alvaro Parente FC Porto 1m14.452s +0.596
14. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 1m15.100s +1.244
15. James Walker Liverpool FC 1m14.464s +0.608
16. Robert Doornbos Corinthians 1m15.137s +1.281
17. Franck Perera Olympique Lyonnais 1m14.609s +0.753
18. Maria de Villota Atletico de Madrid 1m15.996s +2.140