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Kia Motors America’s motorsports program hit a new high last year grabbing the Team and Driver titles in the 2011 Street Tuner (ST) class in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Now they’re looking forward to 2012 with new driver pairings for both the number-10 and number-12 Infinity Audio Forte Koups.
The first race of the 2012 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Championship season will be on January 27, 2012 at Daytona International Speedway and Kia will have Andy Lally and Nic Jönsson to lead the way. Lally returns to the Kia Racing program fresh off his 2011 Sonoco Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year performance, reuniting with ST Driver Champion Jönsson. Both drivers were last seen capturing Kia’s first-ever Grand-Am podium at Daytona in January 2011 before Lally went off to NASCAR.
Both drivers are extremely excited and looking forward to the start of the new season and defending the Driver and Team championships for Kia Racing.
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 displayed one of its two race-prepped Forte Koups entered in the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge Series at the Detroit Auto Show.
The #10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup will compete in the Street Tuner (ST) class with drivers Nic Jonsson and Andy Lally. Kia will enter a second car, the #12 Forte Koup, with drivers Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood.
Take a look at the photo gallery to see details including the carbon fiber dash, chase cam and steering wheel controls.
Gallery: Kia Forte Koup GRAND-AM Continental Tire Challenge Series Race Car