Live updates from Friday's pair of MotoGP free practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring in Austria!

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The second half of the 2021 MotoGP season begins with the first of two back-to-back rounds at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

Despite five different riders and four different manufacturers taking a victory during the opening nine rounds, Monster Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo currently stands head and shoulder above the rest with a 34-point title lead over nearest rival Johann Zarco.

While Quartararo has won four races so far this season countryman Zarco is still seeking his first premier-class victory having finished runner-up four times this season alone.

Austria could provide a great opportunity for the Pramac Ducati rider to break his duck, with the Red Bull Ring circuit having been dominated by Ducati riders since returning to the calendar in 2016.

Miguel Oliveira and KTM broke the Desmosedici dominance when the Portuguese snatched his and Tech3's first MotoGP win during a final corner showdown with Pol Espargaro and Jack Miller at the second of last year's rounds.

Now at the factory KTM team, Oliveira will be chasing a second victory of the season while team-mate Brad Binder will surprisingly still be seeking a first podium of the year in his factory's home events.

KTM and Yamaha will be the focus of extra attention this weekend with the news that Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow will be making their returns to MotoGP action.

Pedrosa, who retired with 31 MotoGP wins at the end of 2018, is making a wild-card entry for KTM while fellow test rider and triple MotoGP race winner Crutchlow is stepping in at Petronas Yamaha to replace the injured Franco Morbidelli.

Andrea Dovizioso joined Oliveira as a race winner in Austria 2020, but neither race was held over a full distance due to a scary accident between Morbidelli and Zarco in the opening event and then brake failure for Maverick Vinales forcing a restart repeat a week later.

Valentino Rossi meanwhile will be competing in his first event since announcing he will retire from MotoGP at the end of this season.