Valentino Rossi dampened the optimism of thousands of home fans in Italy today when he conceded it was unlikely he could fight for a third straight win in Misano.
The Fiat Yamaha rider will start the 28-lap race from fourth on the grid having finished just 0.073s behind Casey Stoner’s factory Ducati GP10.
Rossi was over 0.5s behind Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in pole position and he was also unable to match the pace of Spanish team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
The 31-year-old, who posted a best time of 1.34.470, said: “I’m not so far behind but it depends very much on which tyre the top guys will use and which temperature we will have on track at the time of the race.
"I am not far back and I have quite a good rhythm but in the same conditions compared to Jorge, he is a bit faster than me. I think the key of the race will be the rear tyre. If Pedrosa is able to use the soft tyre he will have a grip advantage at the beginning.
"I think Lorenzo and Pedrosa are in better shape than me, so it will be very difficult to try and beat them. For the third place it looks like between me, (Casey) Stoner and (Ben) Spies.
"The front row would have been good for the race of tomorrow but I just missed out today. I think I had the potential today but unfortunately with the last tyre I found some traffic at the end.”
Rossi at least feels his physical condition has improved again after the punishing heat in Indianapolis.
He said his lingering right shoulder injury is causing him more discomfort than the broken right leg he suffered in Mugello in early June.
Rossi damaged ligaments in his shoulder when motocross training in April and he said: “I feel good. It is a lot easier compared to Indy because the temperature is more human and I feel better with my leg.
"But this track is very demanding for the shoulder because there are three hard braking points on the right. I have some pain and I lose 01.s in every braking. I hope it remains constant and doesn’t get worse at the end of the race.”