Valentino Rossi will start his quest for an eighth successive home victory from just fourth on the grid, but his race pace looks second only to team-mate and pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo.
Despite leading much of the qualifying hour for the Italian Grand Prix, the final minutes saw reigning six time MotoGP champion Rossi defenceless against a three-way onslaught by Lorenzo, Ducati's Casey Stoner and even Suzuki's Loris Capirossi.
Indeed, Rossi failed to improve on his last lap, leaving him to start from the second row of the grid, although he was still only 0.161sec from pole.
Looking at race pace, the Mugello lap record is a 1min 50.003sec, set last year by Stoner, and Rossi completed 13 laps under 1min 50sec this afternoon.
However, Lorenzo managed 16 laps under 1min 50sec, including seven in a row. Rossi's longest run of sub-1min 50sec laps was just three in a row.
Stoner and fifth on the grid Randy de Puniet only set just three laps under 1min 50sec, while Capirossi and sixth placed Colin Edwards did four, indicating that Sunday's clash could turn into a Rossi vs. Lorenzo showdown - with Rossi's record and Lorenzo's world championship lead at stake.