Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, the rookie poised to take over his crown, were separated by just 0.088s at the end of opening free practice for the Australian MotoGP.

After strong winds and heavy showers on Thursday, Friday dawned dry, bright and inevitably breezy for the first MotoGP sessions on the new Phillip Island asphalt.

Both the best lap (Stoner) and race lap (Hayden) records have stood unbeaten since 2008, but the new surface allowed Lorenzo to pull almost one second under the race record - and half a second from Stoner's pole record - on the 16th of his 20 morning laps.

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While Lorenzo ruled most of the 45-minutes, Marquez briefly led at the midway stage and remained in touch with the Yamaha rider. Marquez set his best time on his 17th MotoGP lap of the spectacular seaside circuit.

Marquez was seen sliding the rear through Stoner Corner after less than five minutes.

The Spaniard has a commanding 43-point advantage over Lorenzo and 54-point lead over Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, winner last Sunday at Sepang.

If Marquez is at least 51 points ahead of both Lorenzo and Pedrosa after this Sunday's race, he will be confirmed as the first rookie champion since Kenny Roberts in 1978 - and the youngest ever.

Best of the rest in FP1, but 0.664s from Lorenzo, was an impressive Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda). Pedrosa (Honda), Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) and Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3 Yamaha) the final riders within one-second of Marquez.

Bradley Smith (Tech 3) and Nicky Hayden - the fastest Ducati rider - followed, with Aspar's Randy de Puniet quick throughout the session on his way to ninth and leading CRT. Andrea Dovizioso completed the top ten on the second factory Desmosedici.

Retired double world champion Casey Stoner has won the last six Australian Grands Prix, with Rossi the only rider on the current grid to have tasted a premier-class Phillip Island victory.

Rossi, who undefeated 'down under' from 2001-2005, was the only rider other than Lorenzo and Marquez to head the timesheets this morning. The Italian also set the highest top speed of the morning at 342.8km/h (213.0mph)

Honda LCR's Stefan Bradl amazingly returned to action after fracturing his right ankle in a practice fall, and undergoing surgery, last weekend at Sepang. The Honda LCR rider completed a sore 11 laps, the best of which put him 20th and 3.998s from Lorenzo.

UPDATE: Bradl declared unfit to continue.

Free Practice 1:
1. Jorge Lorenzo
2. Marc Marquez
3. Alvaro Bautista
4. Dani Pedrosa
5. Valentino Rossi
6. Cal Crutchlow
7. Bradley Smith
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Randy De Puniet
10. Andrea Dovizioso
11. Andrea Iannone
12. Aleix Espargaro
13. Colin Edwards
14. Hiroshi Aoyama
15. Hector Barbera
16. Danilo Petrucci
17. Claudio Corti
18. Yonny Hernandez
19. Bryan Staring
20. Stefan Bradl
21. Luca Scassa
22. Lukas Pesek
23. Michael Laverty
24. Damian Cudlin