His last gasp effort of 2:30.285 was a new lap record, nearly one second faster than his 2007 pole at the same track.
The Chevrolet man beat the outgoing world champion Andy Priaulx by 0.17 seconds as they crossed the line together a few seconds before the session expired.
Five different drivers sat on pole position during the 45-minute session.
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Yvan Muller gave a big boost to his title hopes by setting the third fastest lap while his challenger for the world crown, Gabriele Tarquini, had to settle for eighth position.
The top-three Chevrolet-BMW-SEAT sequence was repeated by the drivers who qualified in fourth, fifth and sixth positions: Robert Huff, Augusto Farfus and Jordi Gene.
It was an excellent result for Huff, who is aiming for third place in the Championship but disappointing for Farfus who had topped the three previous sessions but saw his hopes vanish on his last qualifying attempt when he hit the wall at the Solitude Esses.
The two N.technology Honda cars failed to make the top ten; James Thompson posted the 11th fastest lap, 1.4 seconds off the pole, and local hero Andre Couto was 16th.
Tom Coronel was forced to skip most of the session because the SUNRED team were still working to repair his car after a crash in second practice, however he managed to join after the second red flag to clock the 17th fastest lap.
Once again Sergio Hernandez claimed the Indepedents pole position, ousting Franz Engstler in the late stages of the session.
Qualifying was disrupted twice by the red flag, first with 18 minutes to go after Masaki Kano's BMW stopped on the track at Moorish Hill and then again four minutes after the restart when Tarquini crashed at Paiol.
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