Scott McLaughlin sets new lap record in Darwin

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Ford star Scott McLaughlin has set a Supercars lap record in Darwin to top a sizzling final practice session before Saturday's opening race.

The New Zealander was one of eight drivers to better Craig Lowndes's practice record of 1min 6.0259sec set last year, topping the timesheets in 1:05.5635.

Erebus driver David Reynolds was second-fastest, 0.178 away from McLaughlin, while Nissan's Michael Caruso was third quickest as he looks for a repeat of last year's drought-breaking win at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Lowndes's confidence that his Triple Eight Racing Holden had improved qualifying speed was backed up by his best lap, the fourth-fastest, while McLaughlin's DJR Team Penske teammate and championship leader Fabian Coulthard rounded out the top five.

"The car was great and ran on a set of tyres there just to have a good feel for qualifying and it went down OK," McLaughlin said.

"It's enjoyable to drive, that's for sure."

Defending champion Shane van Gisbergen made a late charge into the top 10 and teammate Jamie Whincup was sixth quickest.

After saying something in the car was "broken" on Friday, Van Gisbergen insisted the Holden had improved ahead of qualifying.

"It's good. We'll just see where we are in qualy," he said.

Rick Kelly's seventh-quickest lap gave Nissan two inside the top 10, while Holden's Tim Slade was the eighth driver to break Lowndes's 2016 record.

Qualifying commences at 1350 local time (1420 AEST), with Saturday's 42-lap race set to start at 1615 local time (1645 AEST).