No, his car is second gear start, which I'm sure he wasn't aware of.
Thus, to start in first gear, he would've had to of known this. To engage first gear start, he would've had to move his gear selector to "2", and then back to drive to initiate a first gear start.
Since he's probably starting out with the gear selector in Drive, he's starting out in second gear, and he's feeling a hard shift from 2nd to 3rd.
My opinion is that the car's just are sluggish off the line, and he has a hard shifting problem, probably needing an adjustment to the vaccum module regulator, or whatever the heck it's called.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".