Great Britain may have begun the latest A1GP event at Eastern Creek on the wrong foot - after engineer James Goodfield suffered a broken leg during a pit-lane accident involving the Portugese crew on practice day - but Robbie Kerr ensured the team left in far higher spirits by registering its first podium finish in nine races.

Having lined up eighth on the grid, Kerr made an encouraging start in the rain-hit, 14-lap sprint race to move up three places into fifth by passing the German, American and Chinese entries.

He gained a further position when South Africa's Adrian Zaugg spun off on lap seven, to be lying within a second of a podium spot, but unfortunately a misguided pit-stop to change over to wet-weather tyres just a lap later would prove fatal to the 28-year-old's chances. Emerging down in 19th, Team GBR would be one of only four outfits to take the strategic gamble, but it was one that would not pay off as despite overtaking both Mexico and Lebanon on the final tour Kerr crossed the line a lowly 16th.

"We had a great start," he reflected afterwards, "immediately going from eighth to fifth position. We got right behind New Zealand, but lost a bit of air and front grip so couldn't get too close. I continued to put pressure on, though, and there was no pressure from China behind, so we were fairly happy with where we were.

"When the rain came, the car felt ok and we were keeping pace with the cars in front, but a pit-stop call was made which ultimately turned out to be the wrong decision as the rain wasn't heavy enough around the track to make the wets work. By the end of the race when the track was at its wettest, our wets had completely gone away. It was a real disappointment since we had a strong chance of a podium finish."

The nation vs nation series veteran would atone for that in the later feature outing, with the entire 45 laps held in heavy rain, leading to spray and limited visibility for the 22 drivers out on-track.

Following Jonny Reid's stall in Black Beauty, Kerr took the start in second place behind Switzerland's Neel Jani, and whilst he briefly lost a place to South Africa he would soon regain it, chasing Jani down following his first pit-stop before running wide at turn nine five laps later and losing some time. Though both teams would ultimately be leapfrogged by Adrian Zaugg, third place nevertheless marked Team GBR's first rostrum appearance since Kerr's runner-up spot in the Czech Republic sprint outing last October.

"It was great to be back on the podium for GBR," the High Wycombe ace enthused, "as it had been a long time since we were last up there in Brno.

"The feature race start was a bit mixed - it definitely looked like we could challenge for P1, but unfortunately the pace dropped off a little and we couldn't get the grip out of the car in the corners so lost time falling back to third which, after two good pit-stops, we held for the rest of the race. It's a good result, though, and definitely one we needed. Now we just need to make sure we carry on with the momentum and stay on the podium to give us a chance in the championship."

Following the Australian round, the British squad has moved up two spots in the title standings to sixth place, albeit some 38 points adrift of joint leaders' New Zealand and France, with Durban in South Africa the next meeting on the A1GP calendar on 23-24 February.

"To celebrate the podium following the morning disappointment was really fantastic," added team principal Katie Clements. "Robbie did an extremely good job in very difficult track conditions, and I am pleased that after the misfortune in New Zealand a fortnight ago we were able to leave Australia with some good points and having moved up to sixth in the championship."

 

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