Marc Marquez is aiming for a fourth win in Australia

Phillip Island (Australia) (AFP) - Six-time world champion Marc Marquez topped the timesheets after the third free practice session before qualifying Saturday for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

In dry and fine conditions, the Spanish Honda rider – a three-time winner in Australia – obliterated the pace set by France’s Johann Zarco on Friday with a sizzling one minute and 28.462 seconds.

World championship leader Fabio Quartararo of Yamaha barely squeezed into in Q2 qualifying in 10th after a frantic final lap.

The French Yamaha star was 0.396 seconds off the pace as he desperately searches for points this weekend after a string of poor results.

He holds a slender two-point lead in the standings over Italian Francesco Bagnaia – who finished eighth – with three grands prix left in the 20-race season.

Italy’s Luca Marini on a Ducati-VR46 was a surprise second quickest ahead of Spaniard Jorge Martin riding his Ducati-Pramac.

Just 40 points separate the top five, with all of them in the title race.

Among the contenders, Spain’s Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) was fourth fastest and Australian hope Jack Miller (Ducati) sixth. But Italian Enea Bastianini (Ducati) could only muster 14th.

Top times after three rounds of free practice:

1. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 1min 28.462, 2. Luca Marini (ITA/Ducati-VR46) at 0.130secs, 3. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.154, 4. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.177, 5. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA/Ducati-VR46) 0.228. 6. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.259, 7. Alex Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.303, 8. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.306, 9. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Aprilia) 0.315, 10. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.396.