Starting from pole position with the fastest time among the fastest riders in the world is certainly a psychological edge, but pole position doesn’t guarantee the winner of a MotoGP race, largely because the span of time separating P1 from P6 is less than a second. If starting from pole position were indicative of a race’s outcome, Valentino Rossi’s win record would nearly be halved because he has almost double the amount of MotoGP/500cc race wins as he does MotoGP/500cc pole positions.
Statistically, pole-position records are interesting because they show who among the famous racers were actually fastest. Take for instance Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey. In the early ’90s Schwantz and Rainey went at each other tooth and nail, and while Rainey won three 500cc championship titles to Schwantz’s one, Schwantz – who hasn’t raced in the series for more than two decades – is among the top-10 pole-position record holders, whereas Rainey is not. Schwantz was fast, Rainey was consistent. Fast wins pole positions; consistency wins championships.