Misano Adriatico, Italy - Title rivals Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia will have to battle through the first qualifying session to have a chance of making the top 12 on the grid for Sunday's Emilia-Romagna MotoGP.
Both struggled in the morning session with title leader Quartararo finishing 15th overall and Bagnaia 11th.
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The latter's poor final placing was in stark contrast to three other Ducati riders -- Johann Zarco, Jorge Martin and Jack Miller - who filled the top three positions.
With both finishing outside the top 10 they must hope to fill the top two positions in Saturday's first qualifying session to contest the second one which decides the top 12 places on the grid for Sunday's race.
Quartararo is bidding to become the first Frenchman to be crowned world champion in the category and could seal the title this weekend.
The 22-year-old leads Italian rider Bagnaia by 52 points with three races remaining.
Bagnaia beat his French rival on the same circuit in the San Marino GP in September.
Overall placings after three practice sessions:
1. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 1min 40.384sec, 2. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) at 0.087sec, 3. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.136, 4. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM) 0.448, 5. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.471, 6. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 0.541, 7. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.558, 8. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.580, 9. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/KTM-Tech3) 0.583, 10. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-Avintia) 0.601
11. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.737, 15. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.891, 23. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 2.217
Note: The top 10 move directly to the second qualifying session which determines the make-up of the top 12 on the grid for Sunday's race. The top two from the first qualifying session join them for session two.