Francesco Bagnaia is aiming to close the gap on Fabio Quartararo
Francesco Bagnaia is aiming to close the gap on Fabio Quartararo

Francesco Bagnaia's gameplan will remain the same in Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, despite Fabio Quartararo starting the race down in 15th after struggling in qualifying.

Quartararo leads Bagnaia by 52 points with three races left and will be crowned 2021 MotoGP champion this weekend should he outscore his title rival by three points.

However, the Yamaha rider has his work cut out on Sunday as tough conditions at the Misano Circuit meant he failed to qualify for Q2 for the first time in his MotoGP career.

The Frenchman's best lap would have had him in 13th, but that was voided and he now has 14 places to make up on Bagnaia if he is to come out on top.

Bagnaia had no such trouble in both qualifying sessions, setting the fastest time in both en route to claiming his fourth successive pole.

And the Ducati rider intends to pick up from where he left off by going all out for victory on Sunday and claiming a third triumph in four races to keep the title race alive.

"I was needing to push if he was starting Q2, and I have to push the same now he's 15th," Bagnaia said. 

"The only thing that I can do to leave open the title championship is to try to win tomorrow. The objective would be the same even if Fabio was starting further in front."

Quartararo has only been off the front row once this season, when starting fifth in Qatar, and he doubts the title will be won for at least another week as a result of Saturday's setback. 

"Of course it's a tough situation for me," he said. "To be honest, I have not thought about the championship, because he is P1 and I'm P13 or P15.

"But he has the pressure, it's not only me. He has the pressure to do well, and maybe he will make a mistake. I don't wish him that, but it's something that we will see.

"My feeling is that if everything is normal, we will fight [to decided the title next time] in Portimao."

The front row is dominated by Dacia as Luca Marini finished qualifying in third and Jack Miller second, the latter just 0.025 seconds behind team-mate Bagnaia.

With Quartararo so far down the grid, it sets up the possibility of Miller potentially being given room to push Bagnaia for victory.

"Nobody's said anything to me about team orders up until this point," Miller said. "It's just me as being a rider and having common sense is the main thing.

"We all want the same thing, we all want to see Ducati win, we all want to get the best for that, and at the moment Francesco is our biggest chance.

"It doesn't change anything for me. I'm there to do the best I can do. We'll see what happens in the race tomorrow, but for sure Francesco's speed around here is not doubted."

Last week's Grand Prix of the Americas winner Marc Marquez will start seventh on the grid, while Valentino Rossi is 23rd on home soil.

Qualifying results

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) 1:33.045
2. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.225s
3. Luca Marini (Ducati) +0.85s
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) +0.268s
5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull) +0.394s
6. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha) +0.481s
7. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.805s
8. Iker Lecuona (Tech3) +0.848s
9. Danilo Petrucci (Tech3) +1.095s
10. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +1.642s
11. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +1.198s
12. Jorge Martin (Aprilia) +51.586s

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