Championship leader Fabio Quartararo is yet to stamp his mark in practice for the Australian Grand Prix

Phillip Island (Australia) (AFP) - Flying Frenchman Johann Zarco clocked the quickest time at a windy second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, with MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo fourth.

With recent torrential rain clearing to a cool, dry day at Phillip Island, Zarco blitzed the picturesque circuit with a best lap of one minute and 29.475 seconds.

The Ducati-Pramac rider, who is still targeting a first win in his sixth season as a premier-class competitor, was also fastest in the first session.

Italian Marco Bezzecchi, in his rookie MotoGP season, was second-quickest, 0.038secs behind on a Ducati, with Spanish Honda rider Pol Espargaro third ahead of Frenchman Quartararo, who was 0.139secs off the pace.

Reigning world champion Quartararo has scored only eight points from the last three races on his Yamaha to send the title fight to the wire.

He currently holds a slender two-point lead in the standings from Italian Francesco Bagnaia on a Ducati – he came eighth in second practice – with three grands prix left.

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

Espargaro was seventh fastest and Bastianini ninth.

But the newly married Miller, the form rider who earned more points than anyone else in the recent triple-header of races, left his final run too late and only finished 13th.

Six-time world champion Marc Marquez, a three-time winner at Phillip Island, was fastest for much of the session until the main contenders switched to soft rear tyres for the final five minutes and he ended sixth.

Leading times from the second practice session:

1. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 1min 29.475sec, 2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) at 0.038, 3. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 0.052, 4. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.139, 5. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 0.270, 6. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.300, 7. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.357, 8. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.363, 9. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 0.374, 10. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.406