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Monday, May 30, 2011

Trial Mountain

John B. Marine | 11:59 PM | | | | | | |
(UPDATED: September 14, 2011)

Trial Mountain has long been formidable and challenging in Gran Turismo. This unrelenting race track has long been a fixture of Gran Turismo since the very first game. What makes Trial Mountain so difficult? Well, there are number of reasons. You see, Trial Mountain has elements that combine a temporary street course and an imposing rally course. It has high natural rock walls, vast elevation changes, blind corners and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Some people even believe this track's layout was inspired by the boomerang-like shape of Croatia. I have love for Croatia since I get blog hits from Croatia. Whether you believe this or not, this blog post is about Trial Mountain.

--- Trial Mountain ---
Trial Mountain
"A road runs over this mountain." -Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec

Trial Mountain is essentially a race track carved through a mountain. It is a rally course that thinks it is a permanent and proper racing circuit. Rock-faced walls and undulations in the road make Trial Mountain one of the most challenging and original courses anywhere. It is also a surreal natural masterpiece. Since Gran Turismo 3, many people have noted a monkey sitting on a tree trunk while a race is going on. Gran Turismo 5 featured a rumored Loch Ness monster sighting in one image of Trial Mountain in GT5. The track is a fictional course, but in Gran Turismo 2, Trial Mountain is the track used in the UK Nationals. So you could say this is a British course when there has never been a true British venue until London shown up starting in "Gran Turismo 5: Prologue" followed by the Top Gear Test Track in Gran Turismo 5.

One Lap Description.

Laps here are imposing whether in a car or on a motorcycle. Many of the corners are blind, so you will have to always be on your guard and drive carefully. The first corner goes slowly uphill and is followed by a mid-speed left kink. The next corner is also uphill corner of about the same radius as the previous corner. Exiting the second corner, the road goes downhill and bends into a smooth left-hand corner with sufficient banking. The road afterwards goes slightly uphill, slowly bends to the left, and leads into a sharp turn through one tunnel. The road gets narrow and blind with rock-faced walls and even less runoff road after exiting the first tunnel. Better think carefully where to brake and how to attack the apex of the following corner. You get a natural assist as the road progresses downhill. Gain some extra speed and get as close to possible to the inside curb without grazing the big rocks inside. Braking is not needed in the upcoming chicane (unless on a motorcycle) where the infamous tree with a monkey perched on it can be seen midway through the chicane. Set yourself up to head into the brief second tunnel to attack a moderately sharp left-hand corner. As you head into the second tunnel, the path to the tunnel is completely blind before you head downhill. In fact, the left is COMPLETELY blind. Attack the absolute inside through the yellow-painted part of the road to set yourself up for the final tunnel. When you enter the final tunnel, get ready for a high-speed rush like no other. You will go progressively downhill through the tunnel. Exiting the tunnel leads to a brief crest in the road as you blast through a forest. Then, the road goes sharply uphill. Over the crest, get ready to start braking hard. Try to attack the inside here as well, with the yellow painted part of the road. Go deep inside and set yourself up for a series of undulating blind corners. Keep a steady and consistent line throughout these consecutive corners. The final of these consecutive corners is a sharp right-hand corner with plenty of banking inside. Graze the outside curbing if you exit this corner too wide. After a downhill dip, the road ahead leads to the Start/Finish straight. A sharp left follows that leads to the Start/Finish straight. This sharp left has some banking. The final corner is a chicane (which many people intentionally cut). But before you reach this chicane, the road progress downhill leading up to the chicane. Drive a good racing line to be able to properly set yourself up to clear this corner guilt-free. Try not to cut too far inside in either part of the chicane, especially not the second part of it. Otherwise, your car will seriously be on two wheels and be a bit unstable upon exit. Straighten the car out and make ready to take on another lap of Trial Mountain.

Here is a video lap of what I've tried to explain (from Gran Turismo 4):

--- Trial Mountain Over Time ---
These are some videos to showcase the evolution of Trial Mountain. Take a look:

Gran Turismo 1 and 2.

Trial Mountain in its original state wasn't as super-realistic in graphical quality.

Gran Turismo 3.

With PS2 power, the track has gotten an incredible dosage of beauty. Big mountains, many trees, lush forests, and many more natural aspects help shape the natural beauty of this outstanding race course. Even seeing the sunlight shine from the trees is a beautiful natural touch. Considering this is Gran Turismo 3, you will see many rich and beautiful colors to accentuate this course. See for yourself in this quick video:

Gran Turismo 4 and Tourist Trophy.

The biggest differences between GT4's Trial Mountain and GT3's Trial Mountain is the less-saturated colors as well as fewer lines on the roads. It feels and looks more like a proper circuit here. Here is a look at this track in both GT4 and Tourist Trophy:

Gran Turismo 5.

I am working on buying a PS3 and Gran Turismo 5 as of this initial blog post. So therefore, I am seeing this course for the first time under PS3 power. And to say, it seems like most of the natural character of Trial Mountain is mostly diminished. Almost as if Trial Mountain is much less natural between GT4 and GT5 much like how Deep Forest seems less natural between GT3 and GT4. On the other hand, some beautiful and scenic views are present in this version of Trial Mountain. One of the loveliest views is heading into the Start/Finish straight where a lake can be seen. See for yourself the differences. And by the way, I can NOT guarantee a Loch Ness monster sighting in this video:

Regardless, this is one race track that you just don't mess with or take lightly.

--- Just for Fun: What If Trial Mountain Were a Rally Course? ---
(added: September 14, 2011; formerly a post on "John's Blog Space")
Like Grand Valley Speedway and all the Special Stage Route courses, Trial Mountain is a staple of the Gran Turismo series. In Gran Turismo 1, you could race with the Subaru Impreza Rally Car. Ever wonder what Trial Mountain would be like if it were a rally course rather than a hellishly technical road course? Trial Mountain, is a technical road course nicely inspired by rally racing. It's a best-of-both-worlds course that has a rally feel to it than a traditional road course.

So a few questions:

• do you think Trial Mountain is better off as a rally course (meaning off-road... whether dirt or gravel)?
• would you race Trial Mountain if it were an off-road course rather than a road course?
• do you think racing there would be more exciting if it were an off-road course?

Comment away!

That concludes my look at Trial Mountain. It is a great racing challenge no matter if you race in a car or a motorcycle. Its elevation changes and snaking roads make this an extremely difficult stretch of road to take lightly. The track isn't extremely beautiful, but it is very much a deceptive and vastly imposing course. Its challenge is incredible. Thank you for reading! Race on, friends!

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