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.
|1||Oliver Rowland||Fortec Motorsports||1m45.903s||-|
|3||Nyck de Vries||DAMS||1m46.352s||0.449s|
|4||Egor Orudzhev||Arden Motorsport||1m46.768s||0.865s|
|6||Tio Ellinas||Strakka Racing||1m47.256s||1.353s|
|7||Nicholas Latifi||Arden Motorsport||1m47.328s||1.425s|
|8||Tom Dillmann||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||1m47.409s||1.506s|
|10||Gustav Malja||Strakka Racing||1m47.477s||1.574s|
|11||Andre Negrao||International Draco Racing||1m47.702s||1.799s|
|12||Yu Kanamaru||Pons Racing||1m48.082s||2.179s|
|13||Sean Gelael||Jagonya Ayam with Carlin||1m48.157s||2.254s|
|14||Jazeman Jaafar||Fortec Motorsports||1m48.211s||2.308s|
|16||Nikita Zlobin||Pons Racing||1m48.687s||2.784s|
|18||Aurelien Panis||Tech 1 Racing||1m48.987s||3.084s|
|19||Roy Nissany||Tech 1 Racing||1m49.846s||3.943s|