Valentino Rossi will start Sunday's Australian MotoGP from just eighth on the grid after a mistake in qualifying.

Competitive throughout practice, the Movistar Yamaha rider dropped to the third row of the grid (+0.548s) after running wide while trying to improve his lap time during the crucial final run.

"It is a shame because we have a better potential and in the qualifying we did some mistakes and I have to start from the third row, which is bad for tomorrow because it will be a hard race and everybody will be fast," said Rossi, speaking in the Phillip Island paddock.

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"I was not so bad with the first tyre, but with the second we did some modification on the bike that gave me some problems. Especially in braking. But the bigger problem is that I made a mistake with the second tyre in section three. I was with the 'yellow helmet' [on timing] and I could improve to stay on the second row. But I was too much on the limit and made a mistake.

"We tried to modify the setting for better turning, but I suffered too much in braking and arrived too fast in Turn Nine and went wide.

"The target now is to start well and push in the first laps, because the first part of the race will be crucial for my result. Marquez and Jorge are first and third and I think they are the fastest. Also Pedrosa is coming better today. For race pace I am more or less the same, but I have to start behind."

The seven time MotoGP champion confirmed that he plans to race with the extra-soft front tyre.

"Yeah I think so. It is not decided yet. It depends on the conditions, but with the Yamaha we are good with the extra soft. I did a lot of laps and didn't have any particular problem. For sure we are a little bit at the limit, but the bike worked well. I haven't tried the [new] asymmetric front tyre."

While Marc Marquez is now confirmed as champion, Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo are all covered by just three points in the fight for the runner-up spot.