Valentino Rossi will start the Valencia MotoGP title showdown from last on the grid and having suffered only his second fall of the season in qualifying.
The Italian already knew he would be starting at the back due to his Sepang penalty.
But while team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo delivered 'the best lap of his life' to take pole by 0.488s, Rossi was trudging through the gravel after sliding off at Turn 8 on his final run.
That left The Doctor twelfth and last in the Q2 session, with a time 1.5s slower than Lorenzo. The Spaniard will start Sunday's race seven points behind Rossi, but 25 places ahead of him on the grid.
“The day started well because this morning was a very good practice. I was quite fast [second behind Iannone], quite competitive. I was also happy about the setting of the bike,” Rossi said. “In [FP4] we tried some small modifications. It was not so bad because in the end I was fourth but I suffer more than I expect, because with more temperature I had more problems with the tyres.
“In the morning everything is easier. In the afternoon I lose some grip and struggle more. So we decide for qualifying - because we don't have pressure to make a lap time - to try another modification. But unfortunately it didn't work. I don't like.
“So we decide for the second tyre to go back to the normal setting and was a good lap because after section two I was fast, but then I did a mistake and crash. But this doesn't change anything for tomorrow because anyway I have to start from last.
“For sure we hoped that Jorge don't do the pole position and that the Hondas are strong, but Jorge was faster. Anyway it is impossible to understand what will happen in the race, at the front, we just have to concentrate on us and try to improve the setting.
“Somebody say that tomorrow can be a little bit cooler, that is a bit better, and we have warm-up to try to understand if we can do some modification to improve the pace. And after we see and try the maximum.”
While Rossi doesn't need to beat the #99 to claim his long awaited tenth title, Lorenzo's race result will have a big impact on how many places behind him Rossi can afford to finish.
If Lorenzo is first or second, Rossi must cross the line just one position behind him to be champion. But if Lorenzo is third, Rossi can be sixth. If Lorenzo is fourth, Rossi can be ninth etc.
“From Thursday when I know I have to start last, the situation is quite desperate," Rossi admitted. “So it is anyway very, very difficult. I just have to try the maximum and try to make a good race from the beginning to the end and see what happens. It doesn't depend just on us unfortunately.”
The Doctor must therefore hope that the likes of Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez - starting on the front row - can battle Lorenzo for victory on Sunday.
During race pace runs in final practice, Lorenzo and Marquez looked evenly matched at the top, with the likes of Pedrosa and Rossi a few tenths behind. Andrea Iannone and Pol Espargaro also appear capable of lapping in the high 1m 31s.
“Looks like Jorge is very fast, but also the two Hondas are very fast. They have a good pace. So I think that they will fight for the victory. But after I don't know what will happen,” Rossi said.
“Iannone is the fourth guy with the pace but in the qualifying he struggle a bit and he has to start in the third row. For me, for the fourth place we are a minimum seven-eight bikes to fight and everybody have the pace is quite good.
“For sure starting last is a lot more risk than normal… To try to recover I have to make a good start, that will be very important and after try not to lose too much time in the first laps. Then the race is 30 laps so we have to see what happens and especially how my pace will be.”
Rossi is chasing his first MotoGP title since 2009, having led the standings after every round barring Brno, when he and Lorenzo were tied at the top. Brno was also the scene of Rossi's only previous fall this season, when he slipped on oil from Dani Pedrosa's bike in practice.