(CNN) -- Reigning world champion Valentino Rossi claimed pole position for the British MotoGP at Donington on Saturday.
Rossi is expecting a tough race in the final MotoGP at Donnington.
The Italian superstar edged out Spaniard Dani Pedrosa with his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo qualifying third.
Former world champion Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Colin Edwards will start on the second row with less than a second dividing the leading riders.
Rossi, who leads a three-way title race with Spain's Lorenzo and Stoner, had not expected to claim the 56th pole of his glittering career after Pedrosa dominated the earlier practice sessions.
"I'm surprised," he said.
Rossi is aware that rain is forecast for Sunday and it could have massive impact on their race setup.
"We're not at the maximum with the hard tire, so if tomorrow is dry, we'll have to reconsider and modify out settings as I don't have much grip," he told BBC Sport.
Rossi clocked one minute 28.116 seconds for his fourth pole of the season as he bids for his ninth world championship title.
He produced his stunning lap in the final moments of qualifying after languishing in fifth position with only three minutes to go.
Rossi last won at Donnington in 2005 and is bidding for his 102nd career win before the British MotoGP moves to Silverstone next year.