Movistar Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo feels a top-two finish is beyond him in the Austin MotoGP.

Lorenzo will start from row two after qualifying in fifth place, 0.001s ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi and behind the Open class Yamaha of NGM Forward Racing's Aleix Espargaro.

His best lap of 2m 03.243s was 0.470s behind pole man Marc Marquez and although Lorenzo made significant inroads into the leading Honda riders from the first free practice session on Friday, the two-time premier class world champion feels he is realistically in a battle for 'third or fourth' place on Sunday.

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"The progression from the first practice on Friday is very big, we were two seconds behind and now half a second. Anyway, as I thought it's going to be a hard race tomorrow," he said.

"Our goal is to fight for fourth or third position, I think it would be a good result because here our competitors are really strong so we need to make the best result we can; to finish on the podium would be a good thing."

Lorenzo had the misfortune of a DNF in the opening race in Qatar after sliding off in the opening stages while leading.