Valentino Rossi's hopes of 'settling his account' at Valencia this weekend - after two nightmare events at the Spanish circuit - were dealt a severe blow when the 2008 MotoGP world champion managed just tenth in qualifying for Sunday's season finale.
The Yamaha star - who lost the 2006 title at Valencia, then broke his hand and lost second in the 2007 championship last year - was only 13th in Friday morning's wet opening practice, before falling on his way to fourth in the afternoon session.
Rossi repeated that position in Saturday's final free practice, but his 'battle' against the Valencia circuit went against him once again in the all-important dry afternoon qualifying session.
"Today was not one of my best days; I think one of the hardest we've had all year," admitted Rossi. "Yesterday in the wet we were okay but in the dry today we couldn't find the right setting and I was finding it especially hard on the exit of the corner, which meant I was then losing a lot of time in acceleration.
"Unfortunately we couldn't improve much with the qualifying tyres and so now we must start from tenth tomorrow.
"At the moment with the setting as it is I think we might only be able to finish eighth so now we need to work very hard to try to find a way to be competitive tomorrow," he revealed.
Rossi's worst qualifying of the season was twelfth in Phillip Island - a race he went on to finish second behind Casey Stoner - and he now plans to improve his set-up and have some fun on Sunday.
"We have been in this situation before though so it is not the end of the world and we will try to find a good setting in warm-up, get a good start and then have some fun!
"It seems that my battle with Valencia is continuing, so far she is winning but I will try to change that tomorrow,” vowed Rossi, whose last Valencia victory was in 2004.
“We have a hard job ahead of us tomorrow because starting from the fourth row here is not easy," admitted team manager Davide Brivio. "However hopefully we have set up another exciting race!
"Today's conditions were difficult because it was quite cold and we couldn't get the setting right to enable us to properly use our qualifying tyre. Now we have to analyse the data tonight and use the warm-up well.
"Our target is now to give Valentino a good enough bike to let him enjoy the race and then we know that the rest will come from him," he concluded.
Rossi's Michelin-shod team-mate Jorge Lorenzo will start from seventh.