Robert Wickens will start this weekend's first race of the Formula 2 season from the front after claiming pole position in qualifying this afternoon.
The 20-year-old Canadian set his best time early in the session, on his first run on new tyres, and edged out Tobias Hegewald for the top spot by just 0.014s.
"I've been relatively quick all through testing and practice, and it's nice to say that I got the first pole of the year," said Wickens. "But it's still just the first race of a long season so I've got to get my head down and focus on the rest of the weekend."
Andy Soucek improved his time on his final run to pip Carlos Iaconelli to third on the grid by an even smaller margin - just 0.002s, but the Spaniard was disappointed to miss out on pole after going quickest in practice this morning.
Things got closer still on what will be the third row of the grid as Mikhail Aleshin and Julien Jousse set exactly the same time to claim fifth and sixth places, just ahead of final practice pace-setter Edoardo Piscopo.
It was a closely-fought first qualifying session throughout the field with the top 15 cars qualifying within one second of the pole position time.
Reigning Formula Palmer Audi champion Jason Moore will start from the back on Saturday after his alternator broke before he had set a competitive time, while Jack Clarke slipped from seventh to 17th on the grid after a spin ended his session early.
Pos Driver Time Gap
1. Robert Wickens 1m27.775s
2. Tobias Hegewald 1m27.789s +0.014
3. Andy Soucek 1m27.953s +0.178
4. Carlos Iaconelli 1m27.955s +0.180
5. Mikhail Aleshin 1m28.113s +0.338
6. Julien Jousse 1m28.113s +0.338
7. Edoardo Piscopo 1m28.130s +0.355
8. Milos Pavlovic 1m28.243s +0.468
9. Kazim Vasiliauskas 1m28.315s +0.540
10. Henry Surtees 1m28.390s +0.615
11. Philipp Eng 1m28.461s +0.686
12. Mirko Bortolotti 1m28.470s +0.695
13. Jolyon Palmer 1m28.640s +0.865
14. Natacha Gachnang 1m28.729s +0.954
15. Sebastian Hohenthal 1m28.755s +0.980
16. Alex Brundle 1m29.123s +1.348
17. Jack Clarke 1m29.151s +1.376
18. Nicola de Marco 1m29.184s +1.409
19. German Sanchez 1m29.240s +1.465
20. Armaan Ebrahim 1m29.343s +1.568
21. Henri Karjalainen 1m29.422s +1.647
22. Jens Hoing 1m29.519s +1.744
23. Tom Gladdis 1m30.145s +2.370
24. Pietro Gandolfi 1m30.743s +2.968
25. Jason Moore 1m31.661s +3.886