Valentino Rossi is still searching for a set-up boost with his Movistar Yamaha after qualifying on the second row for the Malaysian MotoGP in Sepang.

Rossi, a winner last time out in Australia, was sixth fastest with a lap in 2m 00.740s, which left him 0.949s behind pole man Marc Marquez.

The Movistar Yamaha rider made slight gains in final qualifying after a minor crash in FP4 but admitted his chances of challenging for the podium are slim unless further improvements are made in warm-up tomorrow.

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"It's a difficult weekend for me because we are struggling a lot to find the right setting for the bike; we work very much but unfortunately we suffer," Rossi said.

"Fortunately, today is better than yesterday and I feel better with the bike but anyway it is not enough - I'm not okay, the setting is not good, I don't ride like I want and I'm not very competitive.

"The Hondas are faster because they have a better rhythm, they are able to make the rear tyre work better, but also Jorge is faster than me because I don't ride like I want because there is a lot of chattering," he added.

"If I want to have a good race and try to fight for the podium, tomorrow we have to try to do another step and improve the setting in the morning and tomorrow afternoon."

Rossi says passing Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovizioso quickly, who both join him on row two, will be crucial to his prospects of hanging on to the Honda riders and team-mate Lorenzo on the first lap.

"Starting from the second row is not so bad considering that we struggled with the setting of the bike yesterday and today," he said.

"To stay with the top three, I have to overtake Dovi and Bradl as soon as possible but especially I need to go a little bit faster than today.

"We had to try the hard front tyre and it was not so bad, but unfortunately I had some chatter and I crashed. Tomorrow is a question mark because we have to decide if we race with this tyre or the medium, which has a better grip but you have to be more careful because you have to push a little bit more."

On Friday, Rossi compared MotoGP to boxing, referring to the relentless overtaking culture that has developed in the premier class sparked by Marc Marquez's pressure tactics and attacking style.

Asked today what his toughest clashes have been on the track in MotoGP, Rossi highlighted his famous battle with Casey Stoner at Laguna Seca in 2008.

"I think the first one like this was with Pedrosa in Brno in 2006, also with Stoner at Laguna Seca and with Jorge in Barcelona on the last two or three laps," Rossi said.

"With Marquez sometimes this year, but for me the best one was with Casey in Laguna."

Rossi was also asked if he expected Yamaha's engineers to focus on making the M1 'more like the Honda' next season, but the Italian said both machines would always be inherently different.

"I don't decide this because this is the Japanese method [how the bike is developed]. They are very clear what they want to do for the development of the bike but they listen to the riders and they know the problem," Rossi said.

"For me, the two bikes are different in the heart. This is the DNA of the Yamaha and the other is the DNA of the Honda.

"Honda will never have our corner speed but we will never have the same tight turn as the Honda because the bikes are so different."