Carlin driver Max Chilton will line up second for round 17 of the 2009 British F3 International Series tomorrow, at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. The 18 year-old racer looked to have claimed pole with a stunning lap in the first half of the session and was the first driver to dip below 1m38s on his third lap. In the end, Chilton was just edged out into second place, while team mate and championship leader Daniel Ricciardo claimed a comfortable fourth place on the grid for the first race tomorrow.

With Ricciardo having topped the timesheets in yesterday’s practice session and Chilton close behind, both Carlin drivers were among the possible pole sitters ahead of today’s first qualifying session. Chilton proved the predictions true when he became the first of the front runners to take the track. His third lap of 1.37.892 was the quickest ever time set by a British F3 car around the Portimao circuit up until that point, and it was only in the dying minutes of the session that Renger van der Zande went quicker thanks to a tow.

Red Bull racer Ricciardo will line up fourth for tomorrow’s race, just behind F3 Euro Series points leader Jules Bianchi, but is in a strong position to maintain a comfortable cushion in the championship standings.

Philip Major continued to make his way up the time sheets following a strong performance this morning. The Canadian qualified 12th for round 17 of the season, but actually lies seventh in the International Class – made up of the regular British F3 racers. Henry Arundel meanwhile endured a tough session having been caught up in traffic after a red flag half way through the session, and lies 19th overall and 12th in the International class.

Lebanese racer Joe Ghanem made an impressive debut in his first official F3 session, putting his Carlin National Class car third on the grid in his class.

Speaking about the first qualifying session of the day, Chilton said, “I was pretty surprised when I saw the time to be honest, as I didn’t think it was going to be that quick. The tyres came in very quickly, so I’ll be ready for that in the second session. I don’t think it was a perfect lap and it feels as though there’s still more to come from the car, so I think we can do even better in second qualifying this afternoon.”

Qualifying for round 18 will take place at 15.35 local time.