Evans GP’s Cooper Webster took a double GB4 pole in a damp Donington Park qualifying which was red-flagged twice.
Webster took advantage of reigning champion Tom Mills’ absence to lead the entire 15-minute session and score his first poles since Snetterton in June.
The Australian registered an opening effort of 1m46.301s before improving to a 1m41.953s to head Elite Motorsport’s debutant Finn Harrison’s by over one second.
The session was halted for the first time after five minutes when Elite’s other rookie Theo Micouris became stuck in the gravel at Old Hairpin.
Webster lowered the pace to a 1m40.808s following the resumption, with Fox Motorsport’s Liam McNeilly 0.6s behind and Fortec Motorsports’ Colin Queen moving into third.
McNeilly then reduced the deficit to 0.139s, but KMR Sport’s Lucas Blakeley edged him to second by 0.023s moments before the red flags were displayed for a second time due to Webster’s team-mate Thomas Lee spinning into the gravel.
That led to a thrilling three-minute shootout once the green flags were waved, with all but two of the 15 drivers on the drying track improving on their final effort.
McNeilly set a fastest first sector, while Webster set a best second sector, and it was the latter that came out on top at the chequered flag to seal pole with a 1m39.384s, which was 0.256s quicker than McNeilly’s improved effort.
Queen moved up to third, albeit 0.9s off the pace, ahead of VRD’s Zack Ping and Blakeley, who failed to improve and slipped to fifth.
Harrison was sixth ahead of Graham Brunton Racing’s Harry Burgoyne Jr. KMR’s Jack Clifford was eighth ahead of Micouris and Fox’s Sid Smith. Fortec’s Dan Hickey and privateer Lexie Belk qualified 14th and 15th on their debuts.
McNeilly will also start alongside Webster in race two, the grid formed by drivers’ second-best laptimes, with Queen again third ahead of Blakeley and Harrison.
Race one grid
1 Cooper Webster Evans GP 1m39.834s
2 Liam McNeilly Fox Motorsport +0.256s
3 Colin Queen Fortec Motorsports +0.892s
4 Zack Ping VRD +1.199s
5 Lucas Blakeley KMR Sport +1.540s
6 Finn Harrison Elite Motorsport +1.550s
7 Harry Burgoyne Jr Graham Brunton Racing +1.955s
8 Jack Clifford KMR Sport +2.043s
9 Theo Micouris Elite Motorsport +2.180s
10 Sid Smith Fox Motorsport +2.316s
Race two grid
1 Webster 1m40.808s
2 McNeilly +0.139s
3 Queen +0.680s
4 Blakeley +0.696s
5 Harrison +0.832s
6 Clifford +1.038s
7 Ping +1.199s
8 Smith +1.931s
9 Burgoyne Jr +2.379s
10 Aditya Kulkarni Fortec Motorsports +2.439s