Vitaly Petrov will start tomorrow's GP2 Series feature race from pole position after emerging on top from a close-fought qualifying session at the Algarve circuit today.
The Russian reeled off a 1m30.819s effort with three minutes remaining to knock Barwa Addax team-mate Davide Valsecchi off the top spot, and then survived an unexpected scare in the final moments when Racing Engineering rookie Dani Clos matched him over the first two sectors but fell just short in the third. Clos missed out by a scant 0.04s, but a front row start is still an outstanding result from the Spaniard.
Champion Nico Hulkenberg (ART) had to settle for third alongside Clos' team-mate Lucas di Grassi, who had led the field through the middle of the session but was bogged down in traffic towards the end.
Valsecchi finished fifth, just ahead of Piquet's Roldan Rodriguez, with his team-mate Alberto Valerio and ART's Pastor Maldonado rounding out the top eight.
Fortune was less kind to Ocean Racing Technology's Alvaro Parente, who will start his home race from the back of the grid after a gearbox problem prevented him from completing a flying lap.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Vitaly Petrov Addax 1m30.819s
2. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1m30.859s + 0.040s
3. Nico Hulkenberg ART 1m30.884s + 0.065s
4. Lucas di Grassi Racing Engineering 1m31.067s + 0.248s
5. Davide Valsecchi Addax 1m31.129s + 0.310s
6. Roldan Rodriguez Piquet 1m31.389s + 0.570s
7. Alberto Valerio Piquet 1m31.418s + 0.599s
8. Pastor Maldonado ART 1m31.449s + 0.630s
9. Giedo van der Garde iSport 1m31.532s + 0.713s
10. Diego Nunes iSport 1m31.569s + 0.750s
11. Jerome d'Ambrosio DAMS 1m31.601s + 0.782s
12. Andreas Zuber Coloni 1m31.673s + 0.854s
13. Luca Filippi Super Nova 1m31.764s + 0.945s
14. Javier Villa Super Nova 1m31.812s + 0.993s
15. Sergio Perez Arden 1m31.886s + 1.067s
16. Luiz Razia Coloni 1m32.140s + 1.321s
17. Davide Rigon Trident 1m32.165s + 1.346s
18. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS 1m32.183s + 1.364s
19. Michael Herck DPR 1m32.376s + 1.557s
20 Edoardo Mortara Arden 1m32.807s + 1.988s
21. Karun Chandhok Ocean 1m32.765s + 1.946s
22. Johnny Cecotto DPR 1m32.807s + 1.988s
23. Ricardo Teixeira Trident 1m34.083s + 3.264s
24. Alvaro Parente Ocean