Pietro Fantin topped the qualifying session for Hitech Racing, the Brazilian the best during a late flurry of flying laps at Rockingham.
The Northamptonshire track is one of a handful Fantin raced at in a partial season last year and he used a combination of that experience and the knowledge gained from Friday's test session to lap the 1.94mile track in 1:11.794, clinching his first British F3 pole by 0.180 seconds over championship leader Felipe Nasr.
“The car was really good I was really confident with what to do on every corner of the track,” said Fantin, who has best finish of second this year. “I knew I was quick from yesterday so it was no secret, I just did the same. No over driving, no underdriving just quick and I knew it was going to be good. But it is not over yet and I need to keep pushing until Sunday.”
While their fastest times booked them places on the front row for the third and final race of the weekend Fantin and Nasr will also line up on the front row for the first race by virtue of the second fastest times.
Nasr had held provisional pole before Fantin took the position with six minutes remaining. The Carlin driver, who can clinch the title this weekend, gave up the chase for pole with three minutes of the session remaining, opting to save as much of the Cooper Tyres as he could for the races though he believed he had the pace to continue the battle for pole.
However, on such a technical track as Rockingham Nasr recognises the importance of qualifying, predicting that the running order will remain the same after the first lap of the race.
Kevin Magnussen – another man who held the provisional pole during the half hour session. will start both the first and third races from third with Jazeman Jaafar due to line up fifth then fourth for the two races. The Malaysian set the early pace – before the field pitted for fresh tyres for the second half of the session – but was unable to contend with the rising pace in the latter stages, failing to take advantage of the best of his own fresh rubber and clear track.
British pair Rupert Svendsen–Cook and Jack Harvey sandwich Jaafar for the first race as the six VW-powered Carlin cars line up behind Fantin – Carlos Huertas the final Carlin man in the order.
Eighth fastest Harry Tincknell was the best of the three Fortec Motorsport men, just, from William Buller – expected to go well on what is effectively his home track. The third Fortec driver – Lucas Foresti struggled and could only manage the sixteenth fastest lap.
Hywel Lloyd and Scott Pye respectively will complete the top ten starters for the first and final races
Kotaro Sakurai easily paced the two man National Class, nearly 1.5 seconds faster than Luca Orlandi, making his first appearance in the series this season.