Superleague Formula comeback kid Ben Hanley stormed to pole position for Olympiacos at China's newest racetrack, the 2.3-mile Ordos International in Inner Mongolia.
Hanley, who missed the previous Algarve round due to a clashing karting commitment, defeated the 'home' club, Beijing Guoan, by over a second in the head-to-head final. Hanley produced a 1m30.347s lap against Beijing's John Martin's 1m31.440s, turning around a deficit in timing splits one and two by thrashing his rival in the final sector.
The Briton had looked like he was going out at the semi-final stage, before he pulled out his sector three trick against Flamengo's Andy Soucek. Hanley's 1m30.244s beat his rival by 0.588 seconds.
Martin beat Bordeaux's Franck Perera in semi-final two semi 2 by 0.445s, setting a 1m30.490s against Perera's 1m30.925s.
The title contenders have suffered a wretched time in qualifying, with Basel's Max Wissel the only one of the top four to make it into the knock-out rounds. But even then, he went out at the quarter-final stage. He will start seventh.
Points leader Davide Rigon (Anderlecht) had looked set to progress into the knock-outs until Hanley knocked him out of Group B in the dying moments. He will start ninth.
Second-placed Craig Dolby (Tottenham) suffered a fuel pressure problem in practice, and he too finished fifth in his group. He will start 10th as he was in the slower of the groups.
AC Milan's Yelmer Buurman, who suffered a disastrous Algarve, endured yet more woe. He blew an engine in practice, and only got a handful of laps in before qualifying. He will start 12th.
Pos Driver Team Time Session 1. Ben Hanley Olympiacos 1m30.347s Pole shoot-out 2. John Martin Beijing Guoan 1m31.440s Pole shoot-out 3. Franck Perera Girondins de Bordeaux 1m30.925s Semi final 2 4. Andy Soucek Flamengo 1m30.832s Semi final 1 5. Robert Doornbos Corinthians 1m30.614s Quarter final 2 6. Frederic Vervisch Liverpool FC 1m31.098s Quarter final 3 7. Max Wissel FC Basel 1m30.376s Quarter final 4 8. Earl Bamber FC Porto 1m32.069s Quarter final 1 9. Davide Rigon RSC Anderlecht 1m30.273s Group B 10. Craig Dolby Tottenham Hotspur 1m31.706s Group A 11. Marcos Martinez Sevilla FC 1m30.354s Group B 12. Yelmer Buurman AC Milan 1m31.942s Group A 13. Adrian Valles Sporting 1m30.546s Group B 14. Julien Jousse AS Roma 1m32.114s Group A 15. Adderly Fong PSV Eindhoven 1m32.829s Group B 16. Bruno Mendez Atletico de Madrid 1m32.596s Group A 17. Giacomo Ricci Galatasaray 1m32.999s Group B 18. Tristan Gommendy Olympique Lyonnais 1m32.689s Group A 19. Ma Qing Hua Team China Group B