The Borders team had decided to change suspension supplier in a bid to improve their times, but that meant starting from scratch with their settings, a process not helped by last Thursday’s test being abandoned due to thunderstorms, so it was all to do in practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday morning.
Race one on Saturday afternoon was conducted in blazing sunshine and air temperatures of 30C-plus, making fatigue and tyre management the biggest challenges at the Pannonia-Ring.
From the lights out, England’s Todd Ellis and his French passenger Emmanuelle Clement took the lead, shadowed by Switzerland’s Markus Schlosser and Marcel Fries and Dutch-German pairing Bennie Streuer and Kevin Kolsch and they stayed that way for all 15 laps.
Kershaw and Charlwood tried to keep up but lost ground and ending up finishing fourth again, ahead of France’s Ted and Vincent Peugeot and Swiss pair Lukas Wyssen and Thomas Hofer.
Overnight, the Lauder crew fine-tuned their set-up and that paid off as they were right in there with the front-runners on Sunday, there never being more than two seconds between the leading four teams.
The decisive moves came in lap 12 when both Ellis and Schlosser made mistakes, allowing Steuer/Kolsch to sneak ahead and Kershaw/Charlwood to move into third place, but Schlosser/Fries just had the legs on the Scots in the last lap to nick the final podium slot.
Ellis/Clement once again stretched their series lead, now up to 23 points, over Schlosser/Fries and Kershaw/Charlwood are third, 14 points ahead of Streuer/Kolsch.
“We had to try something, so we’ve tried what our competitors are using, and after that second race we feel we’re right back in the mix,” said Kershaw afterwards.
“It’s going to take some time to get used to the new feel but we’re straight on to round five next weekend in Croatia, so that should help.
“Thanks to the crew for all their hard work since Friday. I’m so glad it’s been worth it.”