Jorge Lorenzo says he must claw back points on MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi at Phillip Island on Sunday or his chances of landing the title will be 'almost impossible'.

Lorenzo - 18 points behind Rossi - qualified third fastest after setting an identical lap time to Ducati's Andrea Iannone in 1m 28.680s and was annoyed after the Italian followed him twice in Q2, gaining a valuable tow to leapfrog the 28-year-old into second place.

The Movistar Yamaha rider feels his real position on the Australian MotoGP grid should have been second place, but Lorenzo has put the incident behind him and is now focused on recovering points to Rossi to keep his championship dream alive.

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"Yes, you're right, I have the same feeling: it will be almost impossible [to win the title] and for sure my goal is to recover points tomorrow to Valentino," said Lorenzo, asked in the post-qualifying press conference if his title hopes would be over unless he manages to reduce the deficit ahead of next weekend's Malaysian MotoGP - the penultimate round of the championship.

"It was really important to be able to be really quick for one lap because here, in this track, four or five bikes have the special tyre and especially Maverick [Vinales] today was really dangerous and also Dani [Pedrosa] is always very fast.

"Finally I have been in third place and Dani's lap time was close, but unfortunately with Andrea we made the same lap time but he was in front because of his second lap," added Lorenzo.

"It was a little bit pity because I think that today our real position was second place, but Andrea is always strong this weekend to have the will to make a lap time and we lose the second place.

"Anyway, third place is still very good because Vale today has some difficulties to stay in front, so this is not so bad."

Lorenzo is wary of Marquez's improvement in race pace but the double premier class champion made sound progress himself on Saturday and will continue working with his team to further enhance the performance of his M1 ahead of Sunday's 27-lap race.

"Marc improve a lot from yesterday, especially this morning with cold track we struggled to have more grip on the rear tyre in the entry and also on the exit; luckily we modified the bike and we gained a lot of grip in free practice four and qualifying, so the gap reduced a little from this morning," Lorenzo said.

"I hope to work a lot this afternoon to find something more for the race to be able to fight with Marc's pace.

"It's a very important race for the championship and it's exciting from the outside, from the inside you can see that there is a lot of pressure; to be honest I have not a lot of pressure because I feel strong on the bike and I just want to race and to ride and do my best and after the race we will see what happens."