Strakka Racing's Tio Ellinas achieved his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 pole position at Silverstone for Saturday afternoon's opening race of the weekend
The Cypriot had given notice of his strong form by topping Friday practice, and was in control throughout the final five minutes of qualifying, improving his provisional pole position time on four occasions to earn a 0.2s advantage over the field.
Title challenger Matthieu Vaxiviere ended the morning with a front row starting position for race one, ahead of championship leader Oliver Rowland, who rescued third place by moving up the order on his final lap.
The Briton's Fortec team-mate Jazeman Jaafar qualified in fourth, edging out Carlin's Tom Dillmann and Arden racer Nicholas Latifi, who were separated by just 0.019s.
The track was declared wet at the start of the half-hour qualifying session, but Rowland headed a gaggle of cars mounted largely with slick tyres out of the pits.
Damp patches were clearly visible on the pitlane exit, and Tech 1 driver Roy Nissany spun at The Loop, ending his morning's work on his out lap.
The tricky conditions caught out GP2 racer Nick Yelloly, making his first appearance in the category this year - the Lotus driver spun backwards into the gravel on the exit of Club, bringing out the red flags.
On the restart, times rapidly improved. Bruno Bonifacio, Rowland, Dean Stoneman, Latifi, Vaxiviere and Fantin took turns at the top of the timing screens before the field stopped for fresh tyres just past the midway mark.
Friday morning pacesetter Fantin held provisional pole on 1m44.313s as qualifying entered its final phase, with Rowland down in 11th at that stage before his late improvement.
Alfonso Celis's AVF car ground to a halt on the pitlane exit when holding a provisional seventh position, and the luckless Mexican was demoted to an eventual 16th.
Ninth qualifier Aurelien Panis is under investigation for a possible track limits violation, while FR3.5 debutant Will Bratt starts 17th on his first single-seater outing for four years.
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