Andrea Dovizioso could emerge as Ducati's saviour this season if the Italian star can maintain the form he has demonstrated during practice and qualifying in Qatar.

In the top six throughout free practice, Dovizioso delivered his best performance of the weekend as he posted the fourth fastest time during the all-important Q2 shootout on the Desmosedici GP13 to earn a second row start.

His best lap of 1m 55.160s put him ahead of Honda pair Stefan Bradl and Marc Marquez and also clear of ex-Ducati frontman Valentino Rossi, who will start Sunday's opening round of the MotoGP world championship from seventh place on the grid.

It was a superb effort from Dovizioso, who was 0.446s behind Jorge Lorenzo's pole position-grabbing lap and a mere 0.009s adrift of Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa in third.

His fastest time is significantly quicker than the best Ducati managed a year ago, while Rossi's 2012 Desmosedici qualifying of 1m 56.813s was over one-and-a-half seconds slower. Ducati's top qualifying lap at Losail 2012 was set by Nicky Hayden in 1m 55.6s. As a gauge of relative track conditions, Jorge Lorenzo's Yamaha pole time was almost identical this year and last.

Dovizioso said: "I'm very pleased to make the second row, just a few tenths from first place. I didn't expect to do a 1m 55.1s lap, or especially to be so close to Lorenzo.

"It was nice to have a good feeling with the bike when I tried to push hard with a new tyre in the last laps," he added. "I'm really happy with the work that the team did this weekend because we were able to make it to qualifying with a perfect electronics setup, so we were quickly able to use the bike to its full potential."

Dovizioso admits that some 'question marks' remain for the race, but he is optimistic of earning a solid result.

"Starting from the second row will be important for the race," he said. "I still have some big question marks for the race because everything is still new for me, but I'm very motivated for tomorrow.

"We'll see how things are in the race."

Team-mate Hayden qualified in eleventh.

Ducati has only mildly altered the Desmosedici since the end of last season, with major developments not expected until the summer.