Jose Maria Lopez responded to the pressure of an expectant home crowd to earn his fourth 2014 World Touring Car Championship pole at the refurbished Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.
The result extends Lopez's lead in the drivers' standings over his factory Citroen team-mate Yvan Muller.
"I had a little pressure because it was my home event," said Lopez, "but the good thing is when it works out it is almost like a victory.
"I didn't know what to expect going into Q3 as sometimes this year practice form hasn't translated into the qualifying positions, so I just focused on the lap.
"But after taking pole I was really able to enjoy the slow-down lap with the spectators, and it's special to have all of my family here."
Reigning WTCC champion Muller claimed a front row starting position for Sunday's opening race after complaining of losing time with turn-in oversteer at the long right-hand Turn 1 on his Q3 super-pole lap.
In contrast to his fellow C-Elysee drivers, retired World Rally legend Sebastien Loeb did not have the experience of competing at the 2.986-mile circuit in last year's WTCC event to call on.
Loeb had a single winter test at the venue for reference prior to this weekend's round and admitted "trying too hard" had contributed to mistakes en route to third.
Zengo Motorsport's Norbert Michelisz proved that missing Friday's test, owing to travel delays, was no obstacle to a strong result by securing fourth and top non-Citroen honours in his Honda.
Factory Honda racer Tiago Monteiro was first to take to the track in the Q3, reserved for the five fastest Q2 runners, and the former Formula 1 driver repeated his Q2 effort of fifth.
A late Q2 effort by Tom Chilton moved the Briton into sixth place ahead of Monteiro's team-mate Gabriele Tarquini, while Mehdi Bennani made it four Hondas in the top eight.
Fresh from victory in a Super Touring Ford Mondeo at the Silverstone Classic last weekend, Lada racer Rob Huff displayed the effectiveness of his Granta's revised front suspension geometry and weight-loss programme to take 10th and the race two reversed-grid pole.
Franz Engstler added to his 2014 TC2 pole tally, while the second Engstler BMW of WTCC debutant Camilo Echevarria is set to line up from last position.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jose María Lopez Citroen 1m43.766s 2. Yvan Muller Citroen 1m44.194s +0.428s 3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1m44.310s +0.544s 4. Norbert Michelisz Zengo Honda 1m44.408s +0.642s 5. Tiago Monteiro Honda 1m45.174s +1.408s 6. Tom Chilton ROAL Chevrolet 1m44.821s Q2 7. Gabriele Tarquini Honda 1m45.263s Q2 8. Mehdi Bennani Proteam Honda 1m45.389s Q2 9. Hugo Valente Campos Chevrolet 1m45.542s Q2 10. Rob Huff Lada 1m45.572s Q2 11. Tom Coronel ROAL Chevrolet 1m45.696s Q2 12. Rene Munnich Munnich Chevrolet 1m45.830s Q2 13. James Thompson Lada 1m45.964s Q1 14. Dusan Borkovic Campos Chevrolet 1m46.037s Q1 15. Gianni Morbidelli Munnich Chevrolet 1m46.068s Q1 16. Mikhail Kozlovskiy Lada 1m46.622s Q1 17. Franz Engstler Engstler BMW 1m50.499s Q1* 18. John Filippi SEAT 1m51.722s Q1* 19. Camilo Echevarria Engstler BMW 1m55.658s Q1* * TC2