Luca Marini might count himself unlucky to miss out on pole position for the 2020 Moto2 world championship opener in Qatar after setting an identical lap time to Joe Roberts but he remains assured with bigger prizes in sight.

The Sky Racing VR46 rider took provisional pole position with a new track record at the Losail International Circuit of 1m 58.136s only to see Roberts notch up the exact same time but gain pole position due to his quicker second fastest lap during qualifying.

With Marini shuffled back to second place, it still marks his best qualifying result since taking pole position and the race win at last year’s Japanese round, leaving Valentino Rossi’s half-brother confident he can carry his late 2019 form into the new year after avoid a slow start to this season having come back from shoulder surgery 12 months ago.

“The goal was the two front rows so I am happy to achieve this. The race is tomorrow so we have to focus, work a little bit more on the bike and we will try something maybe in the warm-up, then we will see for the race,” Marini said.

“It is a totally different start to the season. This year I am feeling in a good condition, 100%, so I am happy to feel like this I am hope to continue this feeling all the way through the year.”

Marini has also found an almost instant stronger feeling on Dunlop’s new front tyre specification, with the tyre manufacturer rolling out a larger design to provide a bigger surface area contact with the circuit tarmac to give better grip and stability in the corners. The new compound also allows for later and harder braking compared to previous Dunlop front tyres.

“For me the front tyre this year is much better and the bike is more in a good balance,” Marini said. “I don’t understand how the other riders are struggling with this. On my side everything is going good.

“It is a good tyre on the front and we have four specification which are totally different and every tyre I tried at the test was working well so I hope that for all the season it will continue like this. I trust in Dunlop to be constant for all the year.”

Marini begins his fifth full Moto2 campaign this year and his third consecutive in the Sky Racing Team VR46 fold run by his brother Rossi and Pablo Nieto.