(CNN) -- Valentino Rossi will have to do it the hard way if he is to mark his 300th MotoGP with victory in front of his adoring home fans at Mugello.
Rossi could only manage 10th fastest on his Yamaha in final qualifying, way off the pace set by the reigning world champion Marc Marquez of Spain Saturday.
A lap of one minute 47.270 seconds lap gave Marquez his sixth straight pole of the 2014 campaign as he bids for his sixth successive victory for the all-conquering Repsol Honda works team.
But for the 35-year-old MotoGP legend Rossi there was bitter disappointment after a mistake in tire choice left him uncompetitive.
"It was the wrong decision, I felt really bad with the softer front and I was unable to improve my lap time.
"It's a great shame, because I had a good potential and could have started on the front, my pace is good with the bike, but it's like this. Tomorrow from the fourth row everything will be harder and more difficult," added the Italian.
Nine-time world champion Rossi has returned to form this season and chased Marquez home in the latest round in Le Mans in France, but the whole field has struggled to match the defending title holder this season.
Home rider Andrea Iannone came within 0.18 seconds of snatching pole from Marquez, with Spain's two-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha third fastest.
Marquez's teammate Dani Pedrosa -- the lap record holder at Mugello -- was fourth best ahead of another Spaniard, Pol Espargaro of ~Yamaha.
The two Ducati's of Cal Crutchlow of Great Britain and Italian Andrea Dovizioso were sixth and eighth with another Briton, Bradley Smith, in seventh.
But all eyes at the circuit in Tuscany will be on the remarkable Rossi to see if he can turn a series of second places to Marquez this season into his first victory to mark his milestone.