Daniel Ricciardo claimed his eighth Formula Renault 3.5 pole position of the season in a dramatic qualifying session at Barcelona.
The 2009 British Formula 3 champion and his fellow title contenders, Mikhail Aleshin and Esteban Guerrieri, occupied the top three positions throughout.
Just three minutes before the chequered flag, Ricciardo spun backwards into the gravel at the, Turn 4, Repsol corner. The Australian, holding provisional pole at the time, was subsequently stripped of his fastest lap for bringing out the red flags.
As the session restarted, Ricciardo was forced to watch the remaining action from the sidelines as his Tech 1 Racing machine was removed from the gravel. But neither Aleshin, who locked up his front tyres into SEAT corner, nor Guerrieri, who found traffic, were able to improve on their earlier efforts.
Ricciardo's second fastest lap of 1m34.217s thus secured the Red Bull Formula 1 reserve driver pole for this afternoon's low aero race. Championship leader Aleshin (Carlin) finished just a tenth adrift, and will start from the outside of the front row.
Guerrieri, third in the standings some 16 points behind Aleshin, will lead the second row for ISR, ahead of Draco's promising French rookie Nathanael Berthon.
P1 Motorsport's Jan Charouz made a strong return to the championship after being forced to miss the last meeting at Silverstone through injury. The Czech qualified in sixth ahead of his compatriot Filip Salaquarda (ISR).
Stuck in England on Red Bull Formula 1 simulator duties on Friday, Jean-Eric Vergne put in an impressive showing on his first taste of track action this weekend to qualify eighth.
Reigning Formula 2 champion Dean Stoneman will start 20th on his debut for Junior Lotus.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Daniel Ricciardo Tech 1 1m34.217s 2. Mikhail Aleshin Carlin 1m34.307s + 0.090s 3. Esteban Guerrieri ISR 1m34.669s + 0.452s 4. Nathanael Berthon Draco 1m34.794s + 0.577s 5. Albert Costa Epsilon Euskadi 1m34.811s + 0.594s 6. Jan Charouz P1 1m34.826s + 0.609s 7. Filip Salaquarda ISR 1m35.073s + 0.856s 8. Jean-Eric Vergne Tech 1 1m35.089s + 0.872s 9. Jon Lancaster Fortec 1m35.130s + 0.913s 10. Anton Nebylitskiy KMP 1m35.139s + 0.922s 11. Nelson Panciatici Junior Lotus 1m35.184s + 0.967s 12. Greg Mansell Comtec 1m35.285s + 1.068s 13. Federico Leo Pons 1m35.316s + 1.099s 14. Julian Leal Draco 1m35.375s + 1.158s 15. Walter Grubmuller P1 1m35.460s + 1.243s 16. Victor Garcia KMP 1m35.494s + 1.277s 17. Keisuke Kunimoto Epsilon Euskadi 1m35.655s + 1.438s 18. Stefano Coletti Comtec 1m35.707s + 1.490s 19. Sten Pentus Fortec 1m35.795s + 1.578s 20. Dean Stoneman Junior Lotus 1m35.847s + 1.630s 21. Jake Rosenzweig Carlin 1m35.881s + 1.664s 22. Daniel Zampieri Pons 1m36.034s + 1.817s 23. Sergio Canamasas FHV Interwetten 1m36.160s + 1.943s 24. Salvador Duran FHV Interwetten 1m36.452s + 2.235s