THE inaugural running of the Townsville 400 in 2009 marked the end of North Queensland’s long journey to secure a round of the Supercars Championship.
A bumper crowd cheered from the packed grandstands and spectator banks as Jamie Whincup completed the 72nd and final lap of the Saturday race to win the first V8 race on the city’s streets.
Except, according to the record books, that lap didn’t happen.
The final results show that the Triple Eight pilot claimed his first of many wins in Townsville over Holden Racing Team duo Will Davison and Garth Tander after 71 laps of the Reid Park Street Circuit.
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The reason for the one lap discrepancy? Nobody noticed at the time, but the race had actually gone time-certain on the penultimate lap.
“During Race 11 on Saturday 11th July, 72 Laps were competed by the leading car prior to receiving the chequered flag,” the CAMS Stewards said in their post-race summary.
“In accordance with Rule D10.6 and Supplementary Regulation 18.104.22.168, the duration of the race was to be 72 laps or one lap after 1643hrs whichever occurs first.
“Examination of time keeper’s documents showed that the leading car crossed the finish line at 16:43.00.5374 at the end of its 70th lap.
“Therefore the leading car was to complete 1 more lap (i.e. 71 laps) to comply with the rules and regulations.
“Therefore in accordance with rule D13.2.4 the race is deemed to have finished after the completion of Lap 71 by the leading car.”
In contrast, the Sunday race ran the full scheduled distance with James Courtney securing his first win for Dick Johnson Racing with 72 laps in the books.
With both races allotted the same ‘time-certain’ window, two extra Safety Car laps run during the Saturday race (which had six compared to the Sunday race’s four) made the difference.
While the culling of the Saturday race’s 72nd lap didn’t make a difference to the podium places, it did affect the outcome of the battle over 12th place.
Steven Johnson snuck past Shane van Gisbergen on that 72nd tour to secure the spot, but the ‘time-certain’ ruling bumped the #17 Falcon back to 13th.
With just three championship points the difference between the two spots, the change had no effect on either driver’s position in the end-of-year points standings.