Casey Stoner says he will try his best to stay with Dani Perdrosa and Jorge Lorenzo during the Italian Grand Prix, but admits his current pace around the Mugello circuit will make it difficult to aim higher than third.
Having been negative about his pace following FP1 and FP2, things didn't get better for Stoner during qualifying as he spent much of the session tweaking the set-up to get more from the Bridgestone tyres over a single lap.
Languishing outside the top ten for a time, Stoner scaled the timesheets in the closing stages but would only peak with the fifth fastest time, four tenths from pole-winning team-mate Pedrosa.
Indeed, Stoner admits the form of Pedrosa and Yamaha's Lorenzo has put them in a different level at Mugello this weekend, the reigning champion conceding it will take a significant change to the bike in order for him to challenge them.
"This weekend we're just missing something, especially in the longer corners we just can't get the bike to turn, we can't stop the rear chatter in the exit and in the end we can't put the lap together,"he said.
"We're losing some tenths in each sector, if we get the bike sorted for one sector then everything should come together easily but it's been a difficult weekend so far. We still have tomorrow morning to improve our set up and sort out a few of our weaker points, if we do then we might be in with a chance.
"I'm not too worried about second row, we'll hopefully get a good start, see what we can do and try to hang with the guys at the front, but honestly at the moment Jorge and Dani are in a different level."
Stoner is currently third in the MotoGP standings, 20 points behind series leader Lorenzo.