Andrea Dovizioso had to settle for the second row as the Tech 3 Yamaha rider battled traction issues on his satellite M1 at Phillip Island.
Dovizioso expected more grip at the Australian circuit during final qualifying and struggled particularly after attempting to boost his time on a new soft Bridgestone rear.
Nonetheless, the Italian rider believes he will be challenging for the podium on Sunday after qualifying sixth.
“The problem came when I tried to improve my time on a new soft rear tyre,” he said.
“Immediately it was sliding around a lot and it didn't have the grip I was expecting.
“I just didn't have a good feeling and it was impossible to push like I wanted.
“We need to analyse what might have caused that, so considering I couldn't go any faster on a new soft rear tyre at the end of the session, I'm pretty pleased to still be in the top six,” added Dovizioso.
“We have improved the bike in every session and I am confident I will be battling for the podium.”
Dovizioso, whose best time of 1m31.200s left him 0.4s behind Stefan Bradl, had been running inside the top three in the early stages of final qualifying.
“The session started very well and I was quickly into a fast pace that put me inside the top three,” he said.
“My race pace is around the mid-31s and that should be competitive enough to be battling for a podium tomorrow.”