Kia has been promoting its first entry into motorsports in the U.S. in a big way since the Korean automaker first introduced its Forte Koupe race car at the SEMA Show last year. Prior to the green flag at Daytona Speedway, kicking off the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season (formerly Koni Challenge), Kia was working hard to drum up excitement for its two-car effort. And why shouldn’t they, with the vehicles being built by Kinetic and the driver’s including such names as Andy Lally and Nic Jönsson in the #10 car.
Well, things didn’t go quite as Kia had planned with Lally and Jönsson completing just 25 laps for a dismal 31st place in the ST class. The No. 12 car of Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows, a duo which clinched the 2007 Grand Am ST class championship, placed significantly better in 19th, but hardly in the running with average speeds well below the front runners.
Kia’s commitment to Grand-Am and to racing isn’t likely to be discouraged by the results, however, as the Korean automaker plans to use motorsports to help build the brand into one that is seen as sporty and desirable – particularly by young males.
We’ll look to see more from the Kia team in the future with the next Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge taking place March 5-6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
GALLERY: Kia Forte Koup Race Car
Official release after the jump:
KIA MOTORS TO MAKE U.S. AUTO RACING DEBUT AT DAYTONA SPEEDWAY
Two Kia Forte Koups Entered in GRAND-AM’s Fresh From Florida 200 on January 29
# Kia Motors America (KMA) and Kinetic Group have prepped two Forte Koup race cars for the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season in the Street Tuner (ST) Class
# Decorated driver roster: Andy Lally, Nic Jönsson, Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows
IRVINE, Calif., January 25, 2010 – Following six months of round-the-clock vehicle build-up and testing in preparation for the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, Kia Motors’ first-ever U.S. motorsports program reaches the track later this week with two Forte Koups competing in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona Speedway on January 29. KMA and racing partner Kinetic Group have built the No. 10 and No. 12 Kia Forte Koups, which are sponsored by Infinity® Audio Systems, to campaign in the Street Tuner (ST) class.
The No. 10 car – representing Kia’s industry-leading 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty – will be co-driven by Andy Lally and Nic Jönsson, while the No. 12 car will be piloted by the 2007 GRAND-AM ST champions Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows.
“From the moment we announced Kia Motors was getting into racing we believed the Forte Koup would be a strong competitor in GRAND-AM, and the feedback we’ve received from Kinetic and Andy Lally and Nic Jönsson after their initial testing reinforces that belief,” said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. “Consumers have come to recognize the Kia brand for attractively designed and priced vehicles that are fuel efficient and have a long list of standard features, and we are looking forward to introducing Forte Koup and the Kia brand to a new audience of auto racing fans throughout the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season.”
The Forte Koup’s performance-inspired styling and outstanding driving dynamics are a perfect fit for road racing, making Kia Motors’ first two-door coupe the logical choice for KMA’s initial motorsports efforts. KMA selected the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge Sports Car Challenge series, which utilizes production-based race cars from the U.S., Europe and Asia, for its competitive nature and use of weight and intake restrictions to maintain a level playing field for all entrants.
As part of the motorsports program development, KMA partnered with the Kinetic Group to develop, build and campaign the two Forte Koup Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race cars. Headquartered outside of Atlanta, Kinetic has competed in GRAND-AM racing since 2006 and added several specialists to its team of engineers, mechanics and crew for the Kia Motors racing program while also working closely with GRAND-AM to build the cars within strict series guidelines. The two-door, front-wheel-drive race cars utilize the Forte Koup production car’s 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine.