Manabu finds a strange way to get a feel of the track

PETALING JAYA: While others took their cars for a familiarisation drive around the Sepang Circuit yesterday, Japanese driver Manabu Orido took the hard way to study the circuit by running around the 5.543km track to prepare for this Saturday's Round Three of the Japan GT race. 

Enjoying the bright afternoon sunshine, the 34-year-old Orido had always loved running and strongly believed that it is the best way to keep him fit and to prepare for a race. 

“It is going to be a very hard race for me and the team in Sepang especially with our additional 50kg weight handicap,” said Orido, who would be partnering German Dominik Schwager in a Toyota Supra. 

Currently in third spot with 17 points in the premier GT500 class, Orido and Schwager came in second in the previous round in Sugo. And in line with the race regulations, the team would be carrying the weight handicap. 

“With the additional weight and the hot weather, it is going to be a real test for the car and our Yokohama tyres. I am truly glad that we are starting late at 5pm this time round as that would mean a cooler track,” said Orido, who drives for Team Advan-Tsuchiya. 

“Obviously, we would not put ourselves as among the favourites. But based on the performance of our tests in Sepang last January, we can look forward for a good overall race,” said Orido. 

The Sepang Japan GT race is officially the Round 3 of the 2004 Japan GT Championship. Qualifying will be held tomorrow (June 18) with the race scheduled at 5pm on Saturday. 

After two rounds, it is the Toyota teams who are leading the charge in both championship with the Au Cerumo Supra partnership of Yuji Tachikawa and Seiji Ara leading the GT500 class while the WedSport Celica duo of Takayuki Aoki and Nobuteru Taniguchi head the GT300.  

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