Adrian Quaife-Hobbs claimed his third Auto GP pole position in four races at the Hungaroring on Friday afternoon.
The Briton had already commanded both free practice sessions, and his stunning early effort of 1m32.725s was, for much of the qualifying session, almost 1.4 seconds faster than the opposition. The advantage prompted Quaife-Hobbs to remain in the pits for almost two thirds of qualifying and wait for someone to approach his time.
Super Nova team-mate Victor Guerin would come closest. Two minutes prior to the chequered flag, the Brazilian earned a front starting position for Saturday's opening race by a virtue of a lap just 0.112s shy of Quaife-Hobbs' pole time.
"We decided if we were on pole by more than one second after the first run we were going to box [pit]," said Quaife-Hobbs, who gains an advantage of a saved new set of medium compound Kumho tyres for the race.
"It was a good judgement call to stay in, but a bit nervy. The rules of the championship state you have to fuel for the whole session, as there's no refuelling. We weren't confident enough before the session to fuel for only one run. When I was did the pole lap by 1.4s, I was probably 15kg to 20kg heavier than when Victor set his time. At this track, 10 kilos is worth four tenths. The gap might look closer now, but in our minds we're still that much quicker."
Former Italian Formula 3 racer Guerin was satisfied with his highest starting position of the season. Handling difficulties in the opening practice session were rectified by a change to Quaife-Hobbs' set-up.
Norwegian Pal Varhaug took third for Virtuosi UK, ahead of improving Dutchman Daniel de Jong. Both de Jong and MP Motorsport team-mate Chris van der Drift elected to sit out the first half of the session to conserve tyres. While de Jong claimed an impressive fourth, Marrakech winner van der Drift was sidelined by a broken wheel.
Marrakech polesitter Sergey Sirotkin took fifth for Euronova Racing, the Russian ending the afternoon 0.017s ahead of Italian Formula 3 champion Sergio Campana (MLR 71).
Formula Renault 3.5 race-winner Sten Pentus was an impressive seventh for Zele Racing after gearbox problems in practice, while Ombra's fellow series returnee Adderly Fong was ninth.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Super Nova 1m32.725s 2. Victor Guerin Super Nova 1m32.837s + 0.112s 3. Pal Varhaug Virtuosi UK 1m33.129s + 0.404s 4. Daniel de Jong Manor MP 1m33.570s + 0.845s 5. Sergey Sirotkin Euronova 1m34.121s + 1.396s 6. Sergio Campana MLR 71 1m34.138s + 1.413s 7. Sten Pentus Zele 1m34.150s + 1.425s 8. Facu Regalia Campos 1m34.207s + 1.482s 9. Adderly Fong Ombra 1m34.833s + 2.108s 10. Giancarlo Serenelli Ombra 1m35.119s + 2.394s 11. Giuseppe Cipriani Campos 1m35.444s + 2.719s 12. Maxim Snegirev Campos 1m35.448s + 2.723s 13. Antonio Spavone Euronova 1m35.507s + 2.782s 14. Francesco Dracone Virtuosi UK 1m35.625s + 2.900s 15. Michele la Rosa MLR 71 1m37.623s + 4.898s 16. Chris van der Drift Manor MP 1m47.331s + 14.606s