Marussia Manor's Tio Ellinas will start from pole position for the opening round of the new-look GP3 Series season after a fascinating battle at Barcelona, in which he actually finished second.
The fastest man overall, Kevin Korjus, entered the session with a 10-place grid penalty after transgressing in free practice on Friday.
Koiranen racer Korjus topped the session with a lap of 1m34.193s, just 0.040 seconds quicker than Ellinas.
The new-generation cars now feature a far more powerful 3.4-litre AER V6 engine, producing 400bhp, and Korjus's time was 4.305s faster than the qualifying record at Barcelona set by Mitch Evans in 2011.
Free practice pacesetter Patric Niederhauser of Jenzer Motorsport will start alongside Ellinas on the front row after he set the third quickest time right at the end of the session, pipping two other penalised drivers - Alex Fontana and Carlos Sainz Jr.
That means sixth-fastest qualifier Conor Daly will start third for ART, despite his last flying lap being negatively influenced by Arden's Daniil Kvyat. The Red Bull protege duly received a three-place penalty.
Nick Yelloly will start fifth, ahead of Aaro Vainio and Facu Regalia. The latter's ART team-mate Jack Harvey, who suffered a big spin at Turn 9 mid-way through the session, qualified 11th but will start 12th behind pacesetter Korjus (pictured).
Other incidents included Ryan Cullen spinning his Marussia-run car at Turn 12, beaching himself on the inside kerb and causing a lengthy yellow flag near the end of the session.
Melville McKee also spun at Turn 9, but stayed out of the gravel.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Kevin Korjus Koiranen 1m34.193s 2. Tio Ellinas Manor 1m34.233s + 0.040s 3. Patric Niederhauser Jenzer 1m34.444s + 0.251s 4. Alex Fontana Jenzer 1m34.581s + 0.388s 5. Carlos Sainz Jr MW Arden 1m34.635s + 0.442s 6. Conor Daly ART 1m34.810s + 0.617s 7. Daniil Kvyat MW Arden 1m34.989s + 0.796s* 8. Nick Yelloly Carlin 1m35.111s + 0.918s 9. Aaro Vainio Koiranen 1m35.183s + 0.990s 10. Facu Regalia ART 1m35.206s + 1.013s 11. Jack Harvey ART 1m35.250s + 1.057s 12. Dino Zamparelli Manor 1m35.334s + 1.141s 13. David Fumanelli Trident 1m35.376s + 1.183s 14. Robert Visoiu MW Arden 1m35.408s + 1.215s 15. Jimmy Eriksson Status 1m35.458s + 1.265s 16. Giovanni Venturini Trident 1m35.533s + 1.340s 17. Lewis Williamson Bamboo 1m35.725s + 1.532s 18. Eric Lichtenstein Carlin 1m35.884s + 1.691s 19. Patrick Kujala Koiranen 1m36.031s + 1.838s 20. Adderly Fong Status 1m36.131s + 1.938s 21. Luis Sa Silva Carlin 1m36.271s + 2.078s 22. Melville McKee Bamboo 1m36.464s + 2.271s 23. Emanuele Zonzini Trident 1m36.489s + 2.296s 24. Samin Gomez Jenzer 1m36.543s + 2.350s 25. Ryan Cullen Manor 1m37.004s + 2.811s 26. Josh Webster Status 1m37.030s + 2.837s 27. Carmen Jorda Bamboo 1m38.574s + 4.381s Drivers in italics will get 10-place penalties * Three-place grid penalty