As the chequered flag waved in qualifying, Jorge Lorenzo was staring at an eighth place start in Sunday's Indianapolis MotoGP.

But Lorenzo made his last lap count and vaulted onto the front row in third, behind the Repsol Honda's of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, while team-mate and title rival Valentino Rossi was left to inherit the unwelcome eighth place.

"I was in eighth place, so it was a dangerous moment and I had a lot of pressure to make the last lap in the best way possible. As precise and as perfect as I could," Lorenzo said. "I did, so I was proud of it and it saved me a big moment, because to start in the third or fourth row is always a big problem at the beginning of the race."

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The Spaniard had been fastest from Marquez in both Friday sessions and admitted he expected to make more progress.

"Being honest I expected to improve a little e bit more the bike than I did today. We tried many settings and we couldn't improve really the setting of yesterday was really good," he said "Tomorrow in the warm-up we have the last chance to improve the bike.

"But anyway I think that - maybe not with the softer tyre, where the Honda riders seem more explosive - but with the hard tyre I have a really constant pace and especially after 10 or 15 laps I could be even stronger. This is a good thing for tomorrow. So let's try to improve one or two tenths in the warm-up.

"My strategy is to fight for the win. If it's not possible, obviously Valentino is first in the championship so for the moment he don't have one of the best pace but he is always competitive in the race, so for sure it will be difficult to stay in front of him. But if we can improve the bike a bit and I can keep the pace I had this morning I can fight to follow Marc."

Lorenzo, beaten by Rossi at the last two rounds, is currently 13 points behind the Italian.