The British Formula 3 International Series welcomed back Jazeman Jaafar in style during qualifying for the third round at Brands Hatch, claiming pole position in a Carlin 1-2-3-4.
The Malaysian – who finished runner-up in the championship last season – left it late to pull his cards out in the battle for pole position, his team-mate Jordan King having led the first half of the 30-minute session with a strong first run.
The British driver played it calm as the field readied themselves for another final assault on fresher tyres, where the Carlin team came to the fore in a tense battle for the top spot.
Nicholas Latifi looked to be the man most likely to challenge as he lay second and closed to two tenths behind his team-mate, but Jaafar had other ideas on his final two laps of the session, lying third before jumping Latifi for second.
One lap later, Jaafar moved ahead of King by a mere 0.078s to grab provisional pole from King, the pair both giving it one last attempt as the flag awaited them to end the session.
Jaafar put the situation to bed shortly afterwards as he extended his cushion to 0.158s with a pole position time of 1m18.134s, King abandoning his last lap due to traffic hindering his progress as he settled for a front row spot.
Third and fourth went to Carlin cars also, Latifi ahead of Jann Mardenborough, although the latter will start ninth due to a five-place grid penalty for hitting Antonio Giovinazzi at the conclusion of the final race at Spa.
Giovinazzi therefore moved to fourth, Felipe Guimaraes beating struggling Fortec team-mate Will Buller, the championship leader starting sixth behind his major title rivals Giovinazzi and King.
Double R’s Sean Gelael and Tatiana Calderon were next up ahead of Mardenborough, with Ed Jones returning in style also by dominating the National class, finishing 10th overall.
Jones recovered from a minor problem early in the session to leap to the top, beating class points leader Sun Zheng and West-Tec team-mate Cameron Twynham.