Johann Zarco brushed off speculation about his future in the paddock this weekend by turning in the fastest time in free practice for the Austrian MotoGP at Spielberg.
The Frenchman turned up the pace in the closing stages of the 45mins - which will have no bearing on Saturday morning's two qualifying sessions - to dislodge long-time pace setter Fabio Quartararo.
It comes on a weekend where Zarco has been centre of attention amid talk he is deep in negotiations to defect to LCR Honda for the 2024 MotoGP season, even if the chatter didn't seem to distract him out on track.
On a circuit that hasn't traditionally favoured the Yamaha package, the 2021 MotoGP World Champion was quickly up to speed to set the benchmark for stretches, but his peak of 1m 30.237s was no match for Zarco's table topping 1m 29.838secs effort.
Returning to the venue where his relationship with Yamaha famously came to a dramatic conclusion two years ago, Maverick Vinales enjoyed a strong start to the weekend with the third fastest time on the Aprilia RS-GP, heading off Alex Marquez and Marco Bezzecchi - despite off-track moment for each - on their respective Gresini and VR46 Ducatis.
With six of Ducati's eight-strong line-up cracking the top ten, Fabio di Giannantonio filled out the top six on the second of the Gresini bikes, ahead of top Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami, championship leader Pecco Bagnaia, British MotoGP winner Aleix Espargaro and Jorge Martin, the latter rounding out the top ten.
Elsewhere Marc Marquez suffered a spill on the Repsol Honda as he laboured to 18th on the timesheets.
Austrian MotoGP, Spielberg | Free Practice Results
Friday | Conditions - Dry, Sunny
|2023 Austrian MotoGP | Spielberg, Austria | Free Practice Results | Round 10 of 20|
|1||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 29.838|
|2||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 30.237|
|3||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 30.249|
|4||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 30.286|
|5||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 30.305|
|6||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 30.307|
|7||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 30.338|
|8||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 30.367|
|9||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 30.376|
|10||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 30.429|
|11||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Leonovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 30.459|
|12||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 30.460|
|13||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 30.642|
|14||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 30.746|
|15||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 30.778|
|16||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 30.797|
|17||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 30.821|
|19||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 30.856|
|20||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 31.020|
|21||Lorenzo Savadori||🇮🇹||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 31.232|
|22||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 31.283|
|22||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 31.366|
|23||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||1m 31.885|