Valentino Rossi will head into race day at his local Misano round having been undefeated in practice and qualifying, culminating in his sixth pole of the 2009 MotoGP season.

Wearing a special helmet with a donkey's face on top - a joke at his own expense for making a mistake at Indianapolis last Sunday - Rossi and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo exchanged pole from the 7th to the 59th minute of the hour-long qualifying session.

At that point Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa made a surprise appearance in P1, but Rossi - having dashed into the pits for a late tyre change - was able to drag the Spaniard off pole by 0.222sec on his very final lap of the afternoon.

"We expected it to be a bit cooler today but in the end it wasn't so different from yesterday and it's still very hard work for all the riders," said Rossi of the scorching conditions.

"This afternoon the grip wasn't great and we found it a bit harder with the race pace, but then we made a second round of modifications and everything felt very good.

"I was in traffic at the end with a lot of riders following behind me, so I decided to come in and change the tyre at the last moment.

"The team did an F1 pit stop so thanks to them! I was worried because it can be difficult to get the best lap time with the first flying lap, but I could arrive in pole position.

"I am very happy to get the pole position here in Misano. We know that it's going to be a very tough race tomorrow, but we are in good shape," declared The Doctor, who will start round 13 of 17 with a reduced 25 point lead over fellow Fiat Yamaha rider Lorenzo.

"It looked like Valentino really wanted this pole here in Misano!" said team manager Davide Brivio. "I think we've worked very well here so far this weekend, and we've got a good base.

"Valentino is in great shape and we think we're ready for another big battle. It's going to be difficult and we expect to see Lorenzo and Pedrosa there at the front as well, but we're in the best position. Let's race!"

Lorenzo will start third behind Pedrosa.

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