On the back of his historic 100th victory at Assen, Valentino Rossi will look to strengthen his lead at the head of the MotoGP standings as he returns to the scene of one of the pivotal wins of his 2008 campaign.

The FIAT Yamaha rider came out on top of a race long battle with Casey Stoner twelve months ago and went on to secure the title at the end of the year.

Rossi heads to the USA having taken two straight victories and will aim to make it a hat-trick in an effort to increase the gap to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the championship standings.

However, the Italian admits that both his team-mate and Stoner are likely to be strong again at the American circuit and said he needed to put the memory of his Assen success firmly behind him.

"The wonderful memory of the 100th win is still fresh, but now we have just a few days to recover before the next race, which is hard for everyone," he said. "We have to try to relax as much as possible and recharge the batteries a little, because Laguna is always a tough weekend and often very hot.

"Last year I had a great battle with Stoner and for me it was for sure one of the turning points of the championship and a very important win; I have some good memories. I think this year it will be hard again because Lorenzo is in brilliant form and I am sure Stoner will also be back to his best. Laguna is a great place to race and an exciting track, I also have a little trip to Los Angeles and Yamaha US first which I am looking forward to.

"The championship is very open at this point so we need to keep focus, get back to normal after Assen and try to get another good result this weekend."

Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio also admitted it was important to put the historic Assen success in the past and turn focus to fighting for the championship.

"We still have great memories from Laguna Seca in 2008 and we're happy to be arriving there after two wins and leading the championship," he said. "It's a great place to race and the American fans are always brilliant so we hope we can give them another good show! Our package is working well everywhere now so hopefully the case will be the same again this weekend.

"Now that the 100 target has been reached we can focus on the next target - the championship! Now we race for that."

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