An exasperated Cal Crutchlow was left scratching his head after a mystery vibration issue resurfaced at Sepang, stifling his qualifying pace.

Crutchlow will start from the second row of the grid in fifth place in the Malaysian Grand Prix after his sizzling run of four consecutive front row starts came to an end.

The British rider made it clear he was unhappy with the performance of his Tech 3 Yamaha after a vibration problem that struck in the previous round at Motegi returned.

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And Crutchlow feels he faces an uphill battle in Sunday's race unless his team can resolve the issue overnight.

"After qualifying on the front row at the last four races I should be pretty disappointed with fifth position and I am," said the 26-year-old, whose best lap in 2m 201.178s left him 0.8s adrift of Factory Yamaha pole man Jorge Lorenzo.

"To be honest I am not happy with the performance of the bike and I had the same issue that struck in qualifying last weekend in Japan.

"I had a big vibration and all the changes we made to improve the situation didn't work.

"It felt like I had zero grip and we can see the problems on the data but we still haven't been able to identify what is causing the vibration," added Crutchlow, who is sandwiched between Casey Stoner and Ben Spies on the second row.

"We have a lot of work to do tonight and I will be sitting down with my crew and analysing a lot of data to come up with a plan for the race."

Crutchlow missed out on a potential podium finish at Motegi after his machine ran out of fuel on the final lap as he battled for third.

He lost ground to Alvaro Bautista and Valentino Rossi in his bid to wrap up fifth position in the championship standings and is desperate to reduce the deficit this weekend.

"If the situation remains the same for the race it will be really difficult and demanding," he said.

"As always I will try my best and the main goal will be to claw back some of the points I lost to Alvaro and Valentino with the bad luck in Japan."