Roberto Merhi took his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 pole position at Moscow Raceway on Sunday, narrowly beating Lotus stand-in Richie Stanaway.
Ex-Mercedes DTM racer Merhi blew the rest of the field away with his 1m20.7s lap three minutes before the end of the session, which at the time put him six tenths of a second clear of race one winner Sergey Sirotkin.
In the final moments of the session only Stanaway - standing in for the injured Matthieu Vaxiviere - got close to to the Zeta driver, missing out on pole by 0.015s.
Championship contender Pierre Gasly, who had to give up a front row starting slot for race one when his clutch failed on the grid, took third, and he will be joined by title rival Oliver Rowland on the second row.
The Briton was the only driver to improve once the chequered flag came out, moving himself up from seventh place to sit alongside Gasly in fourth.
Local hero Sirotkin had a couple of spells at the head of the order during the session, but he eventually had to settle for fifth position.
With two minutes remaining, championship leader Carlos Sainz sat 18th as his and DAMS' tough weekend continued, but he managed to salvage ninth.
That will become 11th on the grid, as the Spaniard picked up a grid penalty for turning in on title rival Rowland during their battle at the back of the field in race one.
While Sainz bemoaned the penalty, both drivers confirmed to AUTOSPORT that they had not fallen out over the clash.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Roberto Merhi Zeta 1m20.773s
2. Richie Stanaway Lotus 1m20.788s +0.015s
3. Pierre Gasly Arden 1m21.325s +0.552s
4. Oliver Rowland Fortec 1m21.388s +0.615s
5. Sergey Sirotkin Fortec 1m21.389s +0.616s
6. Marlon Stockinger Lotus 1m21.406s +0.633s
7. Zoel Amberg AVF 1m21.487s +0.714s
8. Matias Laine Strakka 1m21.539s +0.766s
9. Carlos Sainz Jr DAMS 1m21.575s +0.802s
10. Beitske Visser AVF 1m21.614s +0.841s
11. Will Stevens Strakka 1m21.681s +0.908s
12. Will Buller Arden 1m21.729s +0.956s
13. Oscar Tunjo Pons 1m21.729s +0.956s
14. Jazeman Jaafar ISR 1m21.730s +0.957s
15. Norman Nato DAMS 1m21.975s +1.202s
16. Marco Sorensen Tech 1 1m21.998s +1.225s
17. Luca Ghiotto Draco 1m22.129s +1.356s
18. Roman Mavlanov Zeta 1m22.139s +1.366s
19. Meindert van Buuren Pons 1m22.380s +1.607s
20. Pietro Fantin Draco 1m26.434s +5.661s