Championship leader Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first pole position in British Formula 3 during first qualifying at Rockingham this morning.
The Red Bull-backed Australian hustled his Dallara-Volkswagen around the Corby circuit in 1m12.334s, with nine minutes of the session remaining, to grab the top spot from Dutchman Renger van der Zande (Hitech) by just 0.046 seconds. A second covered the top 16 qualifiers.
"It was immensely tight, the closest qualifying session we've had all season," said Carlin driver Ricciardo. "We've still got a few things to fine tune, but it's great to get my first pole. I've had three wins so far but no poles so I'm happy to get the first one and hopefully we can complete the set this afternoon."
JTR's Nick Tandy, who finished fastest in testing yesterday, produced a late flourish to set the third fastest time in his Mygale-Mercedes - pipping Raikkonen Robertson racer Marcus Ericsson, who set his best time midway through the session, by 0.041s.
The Swede's rookie teammates Carlos Huertas and Daisuke Nakajima managed to qualify sixth and seventh respectively, separated by seven hundredths of a second and a tenth adrift of the series returnee.
Category qualifying specialist Max Chilton, who had scored three poles from four attempts this season prior to Rockingham, could only manage the fifth fastest time.
He set his best time early on and returned to the track late on to try and improve, but failed to do so having had the best from his Cooper tyres.
Championship contender Riki Christodoulou (Fortec) was eighth, just 0.033s clear of National Class poleman Gabriel Dias, who qualified a sensational ninth fastest overall.
The Brazilian finished well clear of his Championship Class T-Sport team-mates Wayne Boyd and Adriano Buzaid, who collectively endured their worst qualifying performance of the season and were mired down on rows seven and eight respectively. Buzaid was one of only two drivers to lap slower than they managed in testing yesterday.
Pos Driver Team Car Time
1. Daniel Ricciardo Carlin D/V 1m12.334s
2. Renger van der Zande Hitech D/M 1m12.380s + 0.046s
3. Nick Tandy JTR M/M 1m12.480s + 0.146s
4. Marcus Ericsson Double R D/M 1m12.521s + 0.187s
5. Max Chilton Carlin D/V 1m12.582s + 0.248s
6. Carlos Huertas Double R D/M 1m12.628s + 0.294s
7. Daisuke Nakajima Double R D/M 1m12.698s + 0.364s
8. Riki Christodoulou Fortec D/M 1m12.770s + 0.436s
9. Gabriel Dias T-Sport D/M 1m12.803s + 0.469s
10. Victor Garcia Fortec D/M 1m12.804s + 0.470s
11. Walter Grubmuller Hitech D/M 1m12.833s + 0.499s
12. Hywel Lloyd CF D/M 1m12.852s + 0.518s
13. Henry Arundel Carlin D/V 1m12.872s + 0.538s
14. Wayne Boyd T-Sport D/V 1m12.944s + 0.610s
15. Adriano Buzaid T-Sport D/V 1m13.068s + 0.734s
16. Daniel McKenzie Fortec D/M 1m13.302s + 0.968s
17. Stephane Richelmi Barazi Epsilon D/M 1m13.700s + 1.366s
18. Jay Bridger Litespeed M/M 1m14.009s + 1.675s
19. Victor Correa Litespeed S/H 1m14.408s + 2.074s
20. Maxim Snegirev West-Tec D/M 1m14.700s + 2.366s