However, even that wasn't as surprising as reigning champion Adrien Simon crashing out qualifying. The DS Mathershaw driver got just one qualifying lap in - eventually good enough for eighth on the grid - before an error at the final corner saw him spin and hit the inside barrier, bringing out first the yellow, and then red flags.
Puccio Giodano was a strong fourth in his first qualifying session for Franklin but Hutchinson's team mate had no such luck as the car that broke down in Oleksandr Zozulya's hands yesterday never even fired up today, leaving Douglas Bacon last on the grid. Johan Halvosen also endured a difficult session with his only lap being scuppered by the yellows brought about by Simon's crash, as his Meteor never re-appeared after the ensuing red flag period.
James Harding and Olen Inman qualified 13th and 17th respectively but will start down in 23rd and 26th with their 10-place grid penalties for causing avoidable collisions at the last race in Japan.
See below for full qualifying times and the grid with tyre choices for tomorrow's race: