Dani Pedrosa's 2013 campaign got off to a demoralising start as he dropped from second to fourth in Sunday's Qatar MotoGP season opener.
Last year's title runner-up had been searching for set-up solutions throughout the weekend, but was quick when it counted to secure third in qualifying. The Spaniard then repeated that position - and closed the gap to just 0.138s - in warm-up.
The promising trend continued with Pedrosa snatching second at the start of the grand prix. But he didn't have the pace to match Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and was later passed by his both Valentino Rossi and his own team-mate Marc Marquez, riding in his first MotoGP race.
“Today's race was good, in part. I rode strongly and at a good level, although I had to slide around a lot during the entire race to combat a lack of rear grip,” he said. “I saw from the opening lap that Lorenzo was going much faster and I tried to keep my position, because I knew that on the corners the traction issue came into play.
“I tried as hard as I could to keep my position, but then Rossi came through at a blistering pace and, to tell the truth, I couldn't stop him - he went straight through. I did all that I could, but it wasn't enough.
“Maybe there was a set-up issue with the rear, because I had problems with it all weekend and we didn't have enough grip tonight. I was off the podium in the end, which is a shame considering we had some good pre-season tests and that the setup was good in those.
“For some reason, it just didn't work for us tonight."
Pedrosa's best race lap was half-a-second slower than Marquez.