Jorge Lorenzo admits he had no response to Dani Pedrosa's shock turn of speed in qualifying for the Valencia Grand Prix.
The newly-crowned double MotoGP champion seemed to have finally wrested control of a frantic pole-fight when, seven minutes from the end, he deposed Casey Stoner.
In the final stages however Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo's long-time 2012 title rival, stormed into top spot with a record pace that Lorenzo feels was simply beyond his own capabilities.
"I tried to make the pole on my last lap, with the soft tyre, but I couldn't," Lorenzo explained.
"I didn't expect that time from Dani.
"He is extremely fast here, not only in the dry but also in the wet it seems."
Lorenzo still declared himself satisfied with second, and predicted a close fight for victory in Sunday's season finale.
Asked if he expected a hotly-contested race, Lorenzo replied: "It seems like that. Second is good for me and the important thing is there are many laps, so maybe tomorrow the story is different.
"When you have the pressure to win the world title you cannot enjoy [races] 100 per cent, but now I can enjoy it much more and push a little bit more."