Valentino Rossi arguably lost out the most during the debut of the new MotoGP qualifying system at Qatar on Saturday.
The Italian slipped to a weekend-worst seventh place during the brief 15-minute pole shootout, after being caught in traffic at a crucial moment.
“The qualifying was not fantastic for us, especially as we lost the second row,” admitted Rossi, who will be starting his first race for Yamaha since 2010 on Sunday. “Our performance during free practice was better than this, we'll wait for tomorrow.
“Unfortunately in the qualifying session with the second tyre where we had to improve I was stuck in traffic so I could not improve my lap time and I lost some positions. For sure tomorrow it becomes more difficult to start from further behind but we have a good pace so we can be quite competitive.”
“Vale has to start from the third row but he is a fighter and what we have seen from the last two days means we know he can do well,” declared team director Massimo Meregalli.
Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo qualified on pole, setting a best lap time almost one-second quicker than the Italian. Star rookie Marc Marquez was the other rider to lose notable ground in qualifying, the Friday pace setter dropping to sixth on the grid.