DETROIT, MI – Kia Racing made history in the Motor City last weekend as the first Korean brand to capture the checkered flag at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Round Six of the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC).
The win also marks the team’s first victory of the season. A second-place finish in Round Seven of the doubleheader weekend was the third-straight podium finish for Kia driver Mark Wilkins. Wilkins’ stellar weekend behind the wheel of the No. 38 turbocharged Optima moves him into second place in the Grand Touring Sport (GTS) Driver Championship as the season hits the midway point.
Leading into the weekend, Wilkins captured the pole position for Round Six with a qualifying lap of 1:41.475 before leading Saturday’s 50-minute contest flag-to-flag to notch Kia Racing’s first victory since the PWC event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in 2012. Wilkins’ dominating performance in Motown continued Sunday in Round Seven with a second-place result, inching him closer to the GTS points lead.
“It’s just awesome to have such a successful weekend in Detroit. Bringing home the win on Saturday and taking second place on Sunday is a testament to the team and the No. 38 Kia Optima. The new track configuration really suited the Optima, and the Kinetic crew did an amazing job prepping the car for this rough street circuit,” said Wilkins, who found himself drenched in celebratory champagne not once but twice in victory lane. “It was a huge weekend for us in the point standings and keeps us on track for our goal of winning the GTS Championship. We are looking forward to keeping the momentum going next month at Lime Rock Park.”
Kia Racing is now second in the GTS Manufacturer Championship point standings, moving past Acura and trailing Chevrolet by only 16 points.
The weekend was not without its setbacks. Teammate Nic Jonsson’s No. 36 turbocharged Optima sustained serious damage in Round Six Saturday morning and was unable to finish the race or be repaired in time to participate in Round Seven. Coming to the green flag, Jonsson made contact with Peter Cunningham’s Acura TSX. Jonsson spun head-on into the inside concrete wall, impacting it hard and spinning wildly down the front straight. Amazingly, no other cars were involved in the incident. Jonsson was uninjured and walked away from the accident, however his Optima was not so lucky.
“It’s disappointing to say the least. The car was running well and with a fourth-place qualifying slot, we were poised to potentially hold two podium positions by Saturday afternoon. We certainly didn’t expect to be out of the race on lap one,” said Jonsson. “It’s a shame when you consider how hard the crew worked on the car between Austin and Detroit, but I’m happy for Mark. He ran one heck of a weekend and is really riding some momentum right now. So, big picture, I am happy for the Kia Racing team and Kinetic Motorsports as we get ready for Lime Rock.” Jonsson currently sits in 12th place in the Driver Championship standings.
Kinetic Motorsports will head back to its shop in Buford, GA. to prepare and repair the Optimas for yet another doubleheader weekend in Rounds Eight and Nine at Lime Rock Park July 4-6.
Televised coverage of Rounds Six and Seven from Detroit Belle Isle is scheduled to air Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. Race fans can always tune in online for live race coverage at www.world-challengetv.com, and catch the latest news and updates from the track at www.facebook.com/kiaracing and can follow the team on Twitter at @KiaRacing.
Kia: One of the World’s Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands
Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time. With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry. Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand’s “Top 100 Best Global Brands,” and is poised to continue its momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013. Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company’s first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs. The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry’s largest segments has fueled Kia’s rapid growth and is complemented by Kia’s comprehensive lineup which includes the Cadenza flagship sedan, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Sportage compact CUV, Optima Hybrid, the Forte sedan, 5-door and Koup compacts, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and the Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America:
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA. In 2012, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and gained U.S. market share for the 18th consecutive year. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com. To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at http://www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts.
Scott McKee, 949.468.4813, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Ofiara, Kia Motors America, 949.943.9376, email@example.com,