In contrast to Repsol Honda team-mate Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa ran the soft rear tyre early on in Saturday US MotoGP qualifying session.
That allowed Pedrosa to battle fellow Spaniard and title leader Jorge Lorenzo, also on the soft, for provisional pole during the first half of the hour.
But while Lorenzo snatched pole back from Stoner on his final lap, Pedrosa's quickest remained on lap 6 of 32, dropping him to third on the grid.
"I was a little upset at the end of the session as I wasn't able to improve my lap time, but happy anyway with another front row,” said Pedrosa, Lorenzo's nearest title challenge after nine of 18 rounds.
Pedrosa and Stoner were the only riders to sit out this morning's foggy final practice, increasing the afternoon workload.
“We did a big job this afternoon, considering this morning, in my opinion, there was no meaning to go out with such a track and weather conditions,” said Pedrosa “So we had one hour to work with the tyres and set up the new bike that I finally chose for the race.”
Pedrosa has decided to race with the new version of the RC213V on Sunday, which he rode briefly at the Mugello post-race test and had been evaluating alongside the standard 2012 bike this weekend.
“The [new] bike is working well and I'm pretty confident for the race,” said Pedrosa. “Let's see if we have better conditions than today for the warm up tomorrow and we can work on the finer details, although I think we have already a good package".
Team-mate Stoner will race with the new engine, but has opted to keep his original chassis.
Pedrosa is 19-points behind Lorenzo and 18 in front of Stoner.