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What is the Fastest Lap?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2016
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"The fastest lap" is a term used in different types of racing, that refers to the driver or rider who completes a lap on a race course in the shortest amount of time. This can occur during any lap of a particular race, and in some types of races, racers or riders are awarded bonus points or other prizes for completing the fastest lap. The racer who completes a lap the fastest will not necessarily win the race, and that lap often has little bearing on the outcome of the race, but it can have significant impact in overall standings.

Auto racers will often strategize to accomplish the fastest lap in a race to obtain bonus points in the overall standings. Those points can have an impact over the course of an entire season, though they can have less of an impact on a single race. Some auto racing series do not award any points at all for a fastest lap, meaning the feat is simply good for bragging rights. At the end of a season, an award may be given out to the driver who accumulates the most fastest laps during the course of the entire season.

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Some bicycle races also reward racers for the fastest lap, most notably in criterium races. These short-course road races are high intensity and high speed, and many racers will opt to seek out the fastest lap in lieu of racing for the overall win. Several awards can be given out during the course of the race to a rider who completes a certain lap fastest. As the racers pass through the start/finish area, the race organizer will indicate if the current lap is a prime lap, and the winner of that lap will win bonus points, prizes, or even cash.

Other sports may award points for a fastest lap as well. Motorcycle racing can sometimes award points, or at the very least extra recognition, to the rider who completes a lap fastest. Some types of mountain bike races will often recognize the rider who completes a lap faster than others, and other motor sports may recognize a driver or rider for completing a lap fastest. Such recognition is not possible on some courses, as the course may be a one-lap course, or the course may not run in laps at all, but instead on a terminal course that starts in one place and ends in another.

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