Carlin driver Tom Dillmann claimed his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 pole position at Jerez, ahead of champion-elect Oliver Rowland
Dillmann was in command throughout most of the half-hour session, which was hit by blustery and occasionally damp conditions.
He moved to the top of the timing screens seven minutes in, before being briefly demoted by McLaren protege Nyck de Vries.
The DAMS driver held provisional pole for barely a minute before Dillmann produced his pole lap of 1m28.621s.
Rowland will join Dillmann on the front row for Saturday afternoon's opening race, with his Fortec team-mate Jazeman Jaafar third, having edged out championship runner-up Matthieu Vaxiviere by 0.039 seconds.
Strakka Racing's Tio Ellinas missed the early running, and only took to the track after the first of two red flag disruptions, caused when Alfonso Celis Jr stopped on track.
Ellinas recovered from the setback to qualify fifth.
Red Bull junior racer Dean Stoneman caused the second stoppage, three minutes before the scheduled chequered flag, when he found the gravel at Turn 8.
Stoneman was third at the time of the incident, which occurred when light rain started to fall, but had his fastest lap deleted for bringing out the red flags and dropped to 11th.
Following the restart, Rowland highlighted the lack of grip at Turn 8 by also running through the gravel, but kept his Racing Steps Foundation-backed car pointing in the right direction and continued.
Egor Orudzhev was the only driver to improve late, finishing the session third, but the Russian was stripped of his time for a yellow flag violation at the scene of Rowland's incident.
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