It will take 'something strange' for world champion Jorge Lorenzo to battle Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa for victory in Sunday's inaugural MotoGP of the Americas.

The RCVs, and especially rookie Marquez, have held the COTA advantage ever since a private test in March.

That continued in qualifying, with Lorenzo claiming third on the grid - despite a mistimed pit stop preventing a tyre change - with a best lap time over one-second from pole position.

"What happened in qualifying is more or less what happened in all the sessions: our rivals are much faster than us in pace and on a fast lap. Our best position we could do today was third," said the Qatar winner.

"Tomorrow in the race anything could happen. If something strange happens we can fight for the win, but in normal conditions third is a really good position for tomorrow. We hope that the race is going to be better than qualifying and we can be closer to Marc and Dani."

Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg hopes Lorenzo's renowned race consistency can grind down the opposition: "Anything can happen, the fast guys can make mistakes and the race is a long one, you have to stay focused and Jorge is very good at doing that."

Team-mate Valentino Rossi qualified just eighth fastest.