Valentino Rossi confessed there was nothing he could do to match the pace of Andrea Dovizioso as they duelled for victory late in Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP.
The result meant that Yamaha's MotoGP losing streak was extended to nine races, but Rossi at least had the consolation of sealing second in the world championship with one round to go.
The Italian had qualified second to Dovizioso, but was shuffled down the order in the opening corners - prompting a brave triple-pass into the Turn 9 hairpin.
"The start was not so bad, but then Jorge overtake me in the first corner, and also Márquez and Dovi. But I was good in the [Turn 9] braking all weekend. I had a good feeling there also in the warm up lap. So I brake hard, and in the first moment, you think 'maybe I brake too hard and I don't stop', but was OK. I think the first laps were good to watch."
Rossi then spent much of the wet race behind leader Andrea Iannone, several attempts to pass his fellow Italian resulting in immediate retaliation. The Doctor finally made a move stick on lap 11 of 19, with Iannone - like fellow leaders Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow - crashing out soon after.
"I had a hard fight with Iannone and was very difficult, because he always overtake back. And anyway he was fast and riding well. I want to try to go in front, especially because my gloves are completely wet behind, and I cannot keep the throttle open.
"When I was finally able to overtake Iannone, I feel good and can take a small advantage. In that moment I was optimistic for the victory."
But Rossi still had to face Iannone's team-mate Dovizioso, who had been shadowing the leading pair and was looking increasingly threatening. The Ducati rider was soon applying pressure on Rossi, who eventually ran wide at turn one, after which Dovizioso quickly pulled a safe victory advantage.
"With less water, I started to suffer very much with the tyres, especially with the front," Rossi explained. "I did a small mistake, but especially I don't have any more the pace, like Andrea [Dovizioso].
"He was faster. And no way; I had two moments on the right, and I don't want to crash and throw away 20 points another time. It's a shame because I want to try to win, but it's a good second place."
That second place also meant Rossi is now mathematically out of reach of team-mate and 2015 world champion Jorge Lorenzo for second in the world championship, behind Honda's Marc Marquez.
"At the end is a good result, I'm quite happy. You know, when you have the chance to close these things, you have to try. Because if I make a mistake today, Jorge would arrive second, gain 20 points on me, and we would arrive in Valencia just with 4 between us. And Jorge in Valencia is always very fast, so is OK like this."
Reflecting on a season in which he has arguably been more competitive in terms of raw speed than last year, yet unable to keep the title fight alive, the #46 declared:
"I'm quite satisfied, because we have a lot of podiums. I want to try to win a bit more, but it's like this. And also my speed was good, I was quite competitive. But I'm not fully satisfied, because at the end, I was never in the race for the championship, because I did too many mistakes, and I lose a lot of points in Mugello [engine failure].
"To be completely happy, I want to try to fight for the championship and this year with Marquez, he always had too much advantage in the points."
With one round remaining, Rossi has taken two wins and ten podiums, compared with four wins and 15 podiums last year. The critical difference in terms of the championship is that Rossi scored in every race last season, but has suffered four non-scores (a potential 100 points) this season.
Marquez is 42 points clear of Rossi, with one DNF and two low scores after falling and remounting at Le Mans and Sepang.
By Peter McLaren