Oliver Rowland claimed his seventh pole position of the season at Jerez, in the last Formula Renault 3.5 race as part of the World Series by Renault package
The Fortec driver left it until the final 15 seconds of a wet qualifying session to post his time of 1m45.903s, which elevated him from a provisional fifth place.
Rowland's season-long rival Matthieu Vaxiviere was also a late improver and took second place for the Charouz-run Lotus team.
While the front row men for Sunday afternoon's final race are secure in the top two championship positions, DAMS racer Nyck de Vries will be aiming to hang onto third in the drivers' standings in what is a five-way battle.
The McLaren-backed racer, who is also the series' leading rookie, held provisional pole for five minutes before being demoted to third.
Race one runner-up Egor Orudzhev ended the morning fourth, ahead of the session's early leader Alfonso Celis Jr - who enjoyed one of his strongest showings of the season.
AVF driver Celis was one of small group to gamble on slick tyres in race one, and although the move did not pay off in terms of a result, the Mexican took fastest lap.
Strakka Racing's Tio Ellinas completed the top six from Nicholas Latifi and Tom Dillmann, the latter surviving a minor trip through the gravel at Turn 2.
Conditions were wet throughout the half-hour session, and a torrential downpour earlier in the morning contributed to a 50-minute delay in qualifying starting.
Rowland has enjoyed a record-breaking season in FR3.5 this year, but has yet to achieve his goal of a double victory in a weekend.
Pole position for race two at Jerez means that target remains a possibility.
The 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 season will be notable for being the last with the French company's backing but also produced a worthy champion in Oliver Rowland. PETER MILLS evaluates this year's crop of drivers
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Landing the Fortec seat that took rising star Robin Frijns to the 2012 FR3.5 title was already a good sign for Stoffel Vandoorne. Then McLaren took him under its wing. Peter Mills tells Vandoorne's story so far