Manama: Poland's Robert Kubica took his and BMW Sauber's first Formula One pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
The 23-year-old from Krakow denied Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa the top spot with a final flying lap of one minute 33.096 seconds right at the end of qualifying at the Sakhir desert circuit.
"Fantastic Robert, first pole for our team. Thank you," said an emotional team boss Mario Theissen over the car radio as he slowed down.
Brazilian Massa, who won from pole position in Bahrain last year but is still without a point after two races, had dominated Friday's practice and will be looking to revive his title challenge on Sunday.
McLaren's 23-year-old championship leader Lewis Hamilton was third fastest and will share the second row in Sunday's race with Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton leads Raikkonen and BMW Sauber's German Nick Heidfeld by three points in the championship.
Kubica's pole, in only his 25th Grand Prix, followed his front row start in the Australian season-opener and second place in Malaysia.
The first and only Pole to race in Formula One flat-spotted a tyre in his second qualifying run of the final third phase and had suffered a lot of vibration, making the car hard to handle.
"The car was pulling to one side so I was not expecting after this mistake to be on pole," he said. "But of course I am very happy."
BMW, overall runners-up last year after McLaren were stripped of all their points for a spying controversy, have set a target of a first race win in 2008 but champions Ferrari and McLaren have remained ahead of the rest so far.
Kubica's pole was the first by a driver from outside those two teams since Spaniard Fernando Alonso for Renault in China in October 2006.
"The guys have worked very hard and I think this is the example of never giving up, even if there are problems," said Kubica, whose team had to overcome disappointing pre-season testing performances.
Massa refused to be downcast: "In a way, I'm happy with second," he said.
"I was a little bit unlucky with the traffic in Q3 and was always behind cars and couldn't do very clean laps...I think we can be very strong tomorrow."
Hamilton was using the spare chassis after a big crash on Friday and he thanked his team for working through the night to get it ready. "We would prefer to be on pole but the team have done a great job to recover from the accident I had yesterday, they stayed up all night...It (the car) was great today," he said.
"We all knew that we are going to be very close this weekend but Felipe is extremely quick. But we're in a good position for the start tomorrow so I'm quite happy," added the Briton.
McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen and BMW Sauber's Heidfeld share the third row with Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Williams's Nico Rosberg behind.
Honda also celebrated their first appearance this season in the final stage of qualifying and had Briton Jenson Button in ninth place, next to Renault's double world champion Alonso.