MotoGP championship leader Casey Stoner thinks he will have little chance of challenging for victory at Laguna Seca tomorrow despite grabbing second on the grid.
Stoner was quickest in two of the three practice sessions and jumped from fourth to second on the grid with his last lap of qualifying.
But he said his single-lap pace was flattering his actual level of competitiveness this weekend.
"After the way this afternoon was going, we tried so many different things with the bike," said Stoner.
"We went from one step bad to another step worse... We couldn't really get any direction with the bike all weekend, to be honest.
"We haven't been able to find one good thing in it - whether it be traction or the way the bike's turning, we're struggling to get any good point we can go in the direction of.
"This afternoon was no different. We weren't really on the pace. We've been very consistently two tenths slower than Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo]. We're just not there for race pace.
"My first soft tyre, I got held up and things didn't go right. I was only going to get that one lap I had, and that was about it for us this afternoon.
"All weekend we seem to have been able to pull one or two laps but are not consistent enough."
Stoner, who holds a 15-point lead over poleman Lorenzo in the championship at present, said a major breakthrough was required if he was to challenge for victory in America this weekend.
"We need to do a lot of work tomorrow and see if we can do something extra, but we're a little bit off the pace at the moment," he said.