Max Chilton has scored his first GP2 Series pole position with a last-gasp effort at the Hungaroring, ensuring a British presence at the front of the grid for the feature race despite a penalty for second-place qualifier James Calado.
With some sections of the circuit still damp from earlier rain during F1 practice, many drivers opted to wait in the pits while others were lapping out on track. Title rivals Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia did emerge and both took turns at the top.
They were quickly demoted by the Barwa Addax duo of Hockenheim feature race winner Johnny Cecotto and Friday morning practice pacesetter Josef Kral, before Valsecchi returned to P1 as the 30 minute session reached its halfway point.
Calado then went quickest by 0.149s, but knew he could not take pole position having been given a two-place grid penalty for blocking in free practice.
The top times remained unchallenged until the final five minutes when Jolyon Palmer emerged as a serious contender for pole position. With four minutes remaining he took provisional pole position, albeit 0.09s slower than Calado. Valsecchi then snatched P2 away from him, going 0.03s slower than Calado.
Razia looked as though he could put in a pole position lap but he had to make do with fourth, before Palmer recorded a couple of quicker sector times on his final effort but ended up not improving his time.
Carlin driver Chilton had qualified consistently well throughout the season so far, but was languishing down around 20th place as the session neared its close. But with the very last flying lap of the session he became the first man to drop into the 1m28s and edged out Calado by 0.023s to take top spot and his maiden pole position. The pressure will now be on the F1 hopeful to convert that into his first race win.
Valsecchi will join him on the front row after qualifying third, while Palmer will start from P3 ahead of the penalised Calado. Razia will share the third row of the grid with Giedo van der Garde, while Esteban Gutierrez and Fabio Leimer will start from alongside each other on the fourth row.
Marcus Ericsson was ninth, with Cecotto and Kral dropping to tenth and 11th. Nathanael Berthon was 12th, ahead of Felipe Nasr who has work to do to match the fourth and third place finishes he achieved last week.
Fabio Onidi was 14th while newcomer Sergio Canamasas continued to show good pace in 15th. Nigel Melker took 16th, while Rio Haryanto and Victor Guerin will share the ninth row of the grid after setting identical lap times.
Stefano Coletti languished down in 19th, yet was still within a second of pole. He will start alongside fellow Monegasque racer Stephane Richelmi, while South Americans Rodolfo Gonzalez and Julian Leal were 21st and 22nd.
Ricardo Teixeira out-qualified both Simon Trummer and his own Rapax teammate Daniel De Jong, while Giancarlo Serenelli was more than two seconds adrift of the back of the pack.
The feature race takes place at 14:40 BST on Saturday.