TRIPLE Eight dominated the NTI Townsville 500 race weekend but there was one rare feat that slipped through its grasp.
David Reynolds was the last driver to make his first pit stop in Sunday’s 250-kilometre race, which resulted in him leading his first lap of the 2021 season and his first since joining Kelly Grove Racing.
That meant that Lap 32 of the Sunday race was the only one of the 175 laps run across the entire weekend that was not led by Triple Eight.
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Jamie Whincup led the most laps out of the Red Bull Ampol pair (123) despite finishing second in both races, while Shane van Gisbergen led a total of 51 laps on his way to claiming a sweep of both victories.
One team leading every single lap of a Supercars race weekend is actually a rarity – it has happened just once in the last 20 years and just four times this century.
Triple Eight was the team responsible for the most recent instance of it happening.
Whincup led every single lap of the Abu Dhabi round in 2012, an event that featured three 12-lap sprint races with no pit stops.
He also set the fastest lap in all three races, but it wasn’t an entirely perfect weekend for Whincup: he missed out on pole position by 0.199-seconds to good mate Will Davison.
You have to wind the clock back all the way to 2001 for the next instance of a team leading every single lap of a round.
Dick Johnson Racing and Paul Radisich completely dominated the Barbagallo round in 2001, which also featured three sprint races with no compulsory pit stops.
Not only did ‘The Rat’ lead every lap on the way to winning all three races, but he also set the fastest lap in each sprint and qualified on pole position.
The achievement marks the only time this century where a driver has achieved a round ‘grand slam’ in Supercars.
It was much more common for one team to dominate the lap leader tally under the sprint race format used extensively by Supercars from 1996 to 2001, which featured three short races with no pit stops and progressive grids.
For instance, the Holden Racing Team did it twice during the 2000 season and four times in 1999, a year where Jason Bargwanna also led every lap for Garry Rogers Motorsport on his way to his maiden round win at Winton.
Supercars’ current race formats, which include a variety of pit stops and tyre compounds as well as qualifying sessions for individual races, makes it harder for one team to lead every lap of a race weekend.
Consider that Scott McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard and DJR Team Penske didn’t achieve the feat when were at the peak of their powers with the newly-introduced Ford Mustang in early 2019.
The difficulty of the task is further illustrated by Triple Eight falling short by one lap despite its utter dominance of the NTI Townsville 500 weekend.