Third quickest and the top Yamaha on Friday at the French MotoGP, Valentino Rossi dropped down the order to eighth in qualifying at Le Mans.

The Italian - just 0.138s from the front on Friday - was left 0.822s behind pole sitter Marc Marquez in qualifying, meaning a third row start.

"Unfortunately today was a worse day compared to yesterday," said Rossi. "We started quite badly this morning because we had some problems with the rear tyre so we struggled very much in the practice.

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"We had a lot of question marks so we wanted to try the same setting this afternoon. In fact the tyre had a problem because this afternoon it was not so bad. My rhythm and pace for the race is not so bad, unfortunately especially Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa are a bit faster.

"The bigger problem is that in qualifying I am unable to do what I want, when I try to push more I create some problems with the bike. The other riders are better than me to use the extra grip from the new tyre, so I have to start from the third row. My rhythm is not so bad so we have to try to fix something."

Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli is now relying on Rossi's fighting abilities to salvage a strong result during what could be a wet race.

"[Rossi] is a good fighter, to start from the third row is going to be difficult but not impossible for him," he said.

Rossi has finished on the Le Mans podium for the past three seasons, including two rostrums with former team Ducati. Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will start from second on the grid.