Maverick Vinales is helpless to prevent his MotoGP title dream being washed away by the Motegi rain.

That was the impression given by the young Spaniard after he dropped further down the order, to 14th on the grid, as Movistar Yamaha's wet weather phobia continued during final practice and qualifying at the Japanese MotoGP.

Already 28 points behind Honda's Marc Marquez (and 12 from Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso), Vinales now seems destined to effectively drop out of the title chase barring a miraculous change in the weather or misfortune for his rivals on Sunday.

"We tried everything but, honestly, nothing helps," said Vinales. "It's the same problem during all year: The traction. I give my best. I cannot do anything more with the bike we have right now.

"For sure it's a shame because we are trying to win a title, but like this it's impossible.

"It's difficult. For sure I feel [the title slipping away] every time I go on track and I've been tenth or eleventh while my opponents are in the first positions.

"We have been struggling a lot this year in the wet. And I do many races fighting from eleventh on the grid, like at Assen and Sachsenring. So it's been difficult all year, especially when the conditions are not perfect."

Vinales - who dominated winter testing after switching from Suzuki to Yamaha, but is without a victory since round five - added:

"I can't do anything in the rain. Whatever I do - riding smooth, riding aggressive, braking late, early - the problem is the same one. The traction.

"I'm trying my best and the team is trying their best. We are doing everything to make the bike work but it seems impossible. It's not only these two days, it's been all year we’ve been struggling in the same place.

"I don't think we're going to solve it, but anyway we are going to try.

"We've changed the bike up, down, shorter, longer and finally the problem is the same."

Team-mate Valentino Rossi had been just one place ahead of Vinales in Friday practice, before leaping to second in Saturday morning's FP3.

Vinales tried the same set-up changes in the afternoon but, like Rossi, found it didn't work in the drying afternoon conditions.

"Valentino this morning went quite fast. I was quite surprised. They used a different set-up. But I tried in the afternoon and continued spinning," Vinales confirmed.

"In FP4 when I was behind some riders I saw, 'okay, this is impossible' - to do a lap time in the wet and even to fight with them. Because within a few laps already the tyre is gone.

"Let's see for tomorrow. We are going to hope for the best weather it can be and we will try for sure."

Meanwhile MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco will start on pole for the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha team.

Told that it was strange to understand how the factory team is struggling so much more in the wet, Vinales quipped: "Well, if it's strange for you, imagine for me!

"I don’t know. It's better I don't think [about it] try to do my work and take the best result.

"All I can do tomorrow is give my best, as always, and hope for better weather."

Marquez will start from the front row, in third, with Dovizioso ninth on the grid.

Rossi qualified in twelfth after a slick-tyre gamble backfired in Qualifying 2, which Vinales did not participate in after failing to progress through Qualifying 1.

More rain is forecast for Sunday.