Repsol Honda Team's Spanish rider Marc Marquez
Repsol Honda Team's Spanish rider Marc Marquez rides his bike during the MotoGP first free practice session in Phillip Island on October 14, 2022, ahead of Australian MotoGP Grand Prix. Image Credit: AFP

Philip Island, Australia: Flying Frenchman Johann Zarco clocked the quickest time in the first free practice session at the Australian Grand Prix Friday, with MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo 12th.

With recent torrential rain clearing to a cool but fine morning at Phillip Island, Zarco blitzed the picturesque circuit with a best lap of one minute and 30.368 seconds.

Hometown hero Jack Miller, the form rider who has earned more points than anyone else in the recent triple-header of races, made it a Ducati one-two, ending 0.091secs behind.

Alex Marquez on a Honda was third ahead of Suzuki's Alex Rins.

Frenchman Quartararo, the reigning world champion, has scored only eight points from the last three races on his Yamaha to send the title race to the wire with three grand prix left.

He holds a slim two-point lead in the standings from Italian Francesco Bagnaia on a Ducati, with both riders on Thursday saying the championship was "just beginning".

Quartararo was 12th and Bagnaia eighth.

After 17 grand prix, five riders are within 40 points at the top of the title race with Spain's Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Italian Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and Miller all still in contention.

Espargaro was fifth fastest and Bastianini sixth.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez, a three-time winner at Phillip Island, held the fastest lap for much of the session but eventually came seventh.

Top times:

1. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 1min 30.368sec,

2. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) at 0.091,

3. Alex Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.125,

4. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.143,

5. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.319,

6. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 0.422,

7. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.529,

8. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.709,

9. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA/Ducati Gresini) 0.719,

10. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 0.798.