The championship leader ended up 11th in the 40-minute hit-out, 0.4654s off the pace set by Brad Jones Racing's Nick Percat, but was notable for multiple mishaps.
The first of those was a front splitter vibration which led to Triple Eight Race Engineering throwing a new front bar at the #97 ZB Commodore, before van Gisbergen was seen off-track on multiple occasions.
“It wasn't right,” he said of the splitter.
“It was vibrating a lot under braking. I was going too deep at Turn 1 but the vibration was shaking and it would make the front tyre lock with the downforce coming and going.”
Van Gisbergen was nevertheless not too worried about his excursions beyond the track surface at Hidden Valley Raceway.
“What, you want me to drive around at half-throttle next time?” he chuckled.
“It's practice, you've got to try some stuff.”
The session was the first in the Repco Supercars Championship for the super soft tyre, although only Percat went faster than the fastest lap time in the six practice sessions held across last year's two Darwin events.
Van Gisbergen, who has been vocal about the detrimental impact which the category's current aerodynamic packages have on the quality of racing, is nevertheless hopeful that the softer rubber will help spice up the on-track action.
“It's awesome,” he said of the new-specification tyre.
“It's always good to have grip but I didn't do a long run; maybe in the next session.
“But I hope it degrades; we need something that makes these cars raceable so I hope it's good.”
Practice 2 starts at 13:20 local time/13:50 AEST.