Jorge Lorenzo blamed a mistake at the chicance on his final qualifying lap for his failure to claim pole position for the Assen MotoGP race.
The world championship leader will start third in the Dutch TT, behind his Honda-riding title rivals Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, after a spectacular final sprint for pole once rain showers cleared.
On his final lap, Lorenzo had been slightly ahead of Stoner's time at the first splits, but reckoned he cost himself a lot of time at the final corner. His time ended up being 0.288 seconds off pole.
"Today the rain made our lives a little difficult in the morning and the afternoon. Finally we could go full throttle in the last five minutes trying to get pole position," said Lorenzo.
"I tried two laps. On the last lap, I was really fast, but I braked too late at the chicane so I lost maybe two or three tenths and I wasn't able to make the pole position.
"But third position is a good place to start tomorrow."
Lorenzo looked like a strong favourite for a fourth straight race win after showing impressive form in Thursday practice, but with a 25-point championship lead, he said his priority for Saturday was to ensure a good points haul.
"The important thing is to finish the race and get points, and to have a good feeling with the bike," he said.
"It seems we have that this weekend, so let's see tomorrow."