Jack Harvey claimed a double pole position in an ultra-close qualifying session for the final round of the British Formula 3 International Series at Donington Park.
Harvey, who lies third in the points, just six adrift of championship leader Jazeman Jaafar, was just 0.085 seconds clear of fellow Briton Alex Lynn, but managed to squeeze in three laps that were fractions quicker than the best anyone else managed.
Lynn went off at McLeans late in the session and damaged his floor, so Jaafar and Felix Serralles, the other two major title contenders, will start ahead of him for Saturday afternoon's opening race, the grid for which is decided by the drivers' second-fastest times.
That has set up a tense situation in the title fight between Jaafar, Harvey and Serralles - the Puerto Rican is three points behind Jaafar and three ahead of Harvey.
Harvey was happy with his own performance and that of his Carlin Dallara-Volkswagen.
"It's very close," he said. "It's now just a case of making sure we put our stuff together, and that's the way it's been for the past few weekends.
"I'm not so much worried about the championship as I was on a personal level - I really wanted a good weekend after the last one at Silverstone, and this sends a good message to everybody that I can bounce back."
Malaysian Jaafar was happy with progress and forms an all-Carlin front row with Harvey for Saturday's race.
It is an all-Fortec Motorsport Dallara-Mercedes second row, with Serralles - who was fastest in the first two high-speed sectors but lost time in the slow corners - and Lynn.
Carlin's Pietro Fantin showed improved form to go fifth fastest. Next up was his team-mate Harry Tincknell, although the Devon man's second-best lap was significantly slower so it is Fortec's Hannes van Asseldonk who completes the third row for race one.
F3 comeback man Hywel Lloyd claimed a comfortable double pole for the National Class with his family CF Racing team, although T-Sport-run points leader Spike Goddard - who may clinch the title this afternoon - closed the gap later in the session.
Race one grid: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.663s 2. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.717s + 0.054s 3. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m22.812s + 0.149s 4. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m22.901s + 0.238s 5. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.947s + 0.284s 6. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m23.087s + 0.424s 7. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m23.442s + 0.779s 8. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 1m23.660s + 0.997s 9. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 1m23.882s + 1.219s 10. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Double R Dallara-Merc 1m24.132s + 1.469s 11. Geoff Uhrhane Double R Dallara-Merc 1m24.456s + 1.793s 12. Hywel Lloyd CF Dallara-Mugen* 1m25.116s + 2.453s 13. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* 1m25.460s + 2.797s 14. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* 1m25.967s + 3.304s 15. Duvashen Padayachee Double R Dallara-Mugen* 1m27.233s + 4.570s Race three grid: Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.590s 2. Alex Lynn Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m22.675s + 0.085s 3. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.680s + 0.090s 4. Felix Serralles Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m22.796s + 0.206s 5. Pietro Fantin Carlin Dallara-VW 1m22.865s + 0.275s 6. Harry Tincknell Carlin Dallara-VW 1m23.024s + 0.434s 7. Hannes van Asseldonk Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m23.082s + 0.492s 8. Pipo Derani Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m23.387s + 0.797s 9. Nick McBride T-Sport Dallara-Nissan 1m23.658s + 1.068s 10. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Double R Dallara-Merc 1m24.052s + 1.462s 11. Geoff Uhrhane Double R Dallara-Merc 1m24.053s + 1.463s 12. Hywel Lloyd CF Dallara-Mugen* 1m24.830s + 2.240s 13. Spike Goddard T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* 1m25.039s + 2.449s 14. Pedro Pablo Calbimonte T-Sport Dallara-Mugen* 1m25.780s + 3.190s 15. Duvashen Padayachee Double R Dallara-Mugen* 1m26.785s + 4.195s * National Class