Raffaele Marciello pulled an incredible lap out of the bag to take pole position for the Macau Grand Prix in final qualifying.
The Ferrari protege was only 10th at the final restart of a session that was halted three times, yet suddenly lopped 1.4 seconds off his best lap of the weekend to secure the top spot in his Prema Powerteam Dallara-Mercedes.
Felix Rosenqvist, who hounded Marciello throughout the season for the European Formula 3 title, looked to have done enough when he lowered the pole time by half a second with four laps remaining, only to be pipped by the Italian by 0.067 seconds.
"I didn't push at all in first qualifying," said Marciello, "and in second free practice I left some margin, so I had to lot to come. I got a good slipstream and did a good lap.
"It will be a difficult race, but I'm really proud to have pole position on such a great circuit."
Rosenqvist also got a good tow in his Mucke Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes, but felt he took it too easy in the final two corners because he had been confident that the lap to that point was good enough for pole.
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Last year's poleman Alex Lynn will start the qualification race from third on the grid, heading Lucas Auer in an all-Prema second row.
Lynn was within a tenth of pole, and on theoretical best laps should have topped qualifying by some margin, but lost out by four tenths in the first sector because he did not get a tow.
Ironically, Lynn's lack of a slipstream was caused by team-mate Auer stalling in the pitlane at the final restart, bottling up the rest of the pack so that Lynn - the first to find his way around the stranded Austrian - was left on an empty track.
Last year's winner Antonio Felix da Costa fell to fifth in the order, the leading Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen racer running at the front of the pack and also lacking a tow, although he topped the charts in the mountainous middle sector.
Fortec Motorsport runners Tom Blomqvist and Pipo Derani were running one-two when the session was finally restarted with 12 minutes remaining, but neither could get a clear lap thereafter and slumped to sixth and seventh respectively.
The top 10 was completed by Carlin trio Jazeman Jaafar, Harry Tincknell and leading Macau rookie Jordan King.
Jaafar was subsequently given a five-place grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement, which will promote Alexander Sims into the top 10.
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The first session stoppage was caused by Katsumasa Chiyo having his second shunt of the day, this time at San Francisco Bend.
The second came when Sun Zheng hit the wall at Moorish, and the final when Sun's Double R Racing team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi crashed at Paiol.
Carlos Sainz Jr also failed to complete the session, when his Carlin car's Volkswagen engine cut out due to an electrical fault.
Second qualifying times:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Raffaele Marciello Prema Dallara-Merc 2m11.555s
2. Felix Rosenqvist Mucke Dallara-Merc 2m11.622s +0.067s
3. Alex Lynn Prema Dallara-Merc 2m11.639s +0.084s
4. Lucas Auer Prema Dallara-Merc 2m12.052s +0.497s
5. Antonio Felix da Costa Carlin Dallara-VW 2m12.083s +0.528s
6. Tom Blomqvist Fortec Dallara-Merc 2m12.111s +0.556s
7. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 2m12.144s +0.589s
8. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 2m12.225s +0.670s
9. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 2m12.409s +0.854s
10. Jordan King Carlin Dallara-VW 2m12.616s +1.061s
11. Alexander Sims T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 2m12.698s +1.143s
12. Will Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc 2m12.768s +1.213s
13. Kevin Korjus Double R Dallara-Merc 2m13.053s +1.498s
14. Carlos Sainz Jr Carlin Dallara-VW 2m13.173s +1.618s
15. Esteban Ocon Prema Dallara-Merc 2m13.333s +1.778s
16. Nicholas Latifi Carlin Dallara-VW 2m13.551s +1.996s
17. Yuhi Sekiguchi Mucke Dallara-Merc 2m13.833s +2.278s
18. Lucas Wolf URD Dallara-Merc 2m13.938s +2.383s
19. Antonio Giovinazzi Double R Dallara-Merc 2m14.018s +2.463s
20. Yuichi Nakayama TOM'S Dallara-Toyota 2m14.308s +2.753s
21. Dennis van de Laar Mucke Dallara-Merc 2m14.310s +2.755s
22. John Bryant-Meisner Fortec Dallara-Merc 2m14.570s +3.015s
23. Sean Gelael Double R Dallara-Merc 2m14.657s +3.102s
24. Nelson Mason Zeller Dallara-Merc 2m14.706s +3.151s
25. Ed Jones Fortec Dallara-Merc 2m14.975s +3.420s
26. Sun Zheng Double R Dallara-Merc 2m18.912s +7.357s
27. Stefano Coletti Eurointernational Dallara-Merc
28. Katsumasa Chiyo B-Max Dallara-Toyota