Having conquered qualifying, Valentino Rossi will attempt to break clear of title rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner by claiming his 100th grand prix victory at Assen on Saturday.

The reigning six time MotoGP world champion starts round seven of 2009 equal on points and race wins with Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo and Ducati star Stoner, who will start third and fourth on the Dutch TT grid.

Honda's Dani Pedrosa tucked in behind Rossi to help claim second place in qualifying, just 0.085sec behind the Italian, but the Spaniard's injuries mean he is unlikely to match the 'big three' over a full race distance.

Rossi's only previous 2009 'pole' was at Motegi, but on that occasion the position was handed to him by virtue of his free practice pace after rain forced qualifying to be cancelled.

"This is a really good pole position because I've only had one other this season, at Motegi in strange conditions," he said. "I had a lot of traffic around me in the last few minutes so I had to be careful to judge exactly the right point to push, but I got it right and I was really happy with my great lap at the end.

"I feel good and I am very strong with the Bridgestone race tyres but it's going to be a hard race because the others are also very fast. We still have two or three points on the track where we could improve our performance a bit more so we still have a bit of work to do, but I am confident that we can make another great race.

"Of course we don't know about the weather, but this is normal for Assen and we will just have to manage!" he added, referring to the constant threat of rain.

Rossi put together eight consecutive race simulation laps early in qualifying, all but one of which was below 1min 38sec.

Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo once gain put in a longer run, of 18 laps, 15 of which were under 1min 38sec. Rossi's best during his run was a 1min 37.314sec, Lorenzo's a 1min 37.424sec.

Pedrosa did seven consecutive laps, but only three under 1min 38sec (best 1min 37.486sec) while, as in Catalunya, Stoner only did a brief run - four fast laps, three of them under 1min 38sec and a best of 1min 37.379sec.