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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.
They’ve only been racing two seasons, but Kia Motors America’s motorsports program has now achieved championship greatness, thanks to Nic Jönsson wining the driver’s title and solidifying Kia in the Team Championship in the Street Tuner class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Jönsson finished seventh overall, having started the race with a three point lead in the class standings, which was enough to secure the title.
Jönsson and co-driver Michael Galati were able to use the Kinetic Motorsports Forte Koup’s braking, handling and fuel efficiency to their advantage during the 2.5 hour race, battling a field of some 30 competitors to finish first overall in their category.
“Second-year motorsports programs are not supposed to win championships but Kia Motors and Kinetic Motorsports have been committed to being the best since we formed our partnership in late-2009,” declared championship-winning driver Jönsson. “The Kia Forte Koups have been fantastic since getting off the truck at Daytona in January thanks to the tireless dedication of the team. We couldn’t be happier with the end result, and I have to thank Michael Galati whose skill and experience was invaluable in this championship run.”
After a best finish of second during the team’s inaugural run last year, this past weekend Kia topped the podium for the first time ever in the automaker’s history.
Competing in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race, driver’s Michael Galati and Nic Jönsson piloted their No. 10 Forte Koup to first place in the Street Tuner class at Barber Motorsports Park.
After qualifying just 16th, Michael Galati brought the car into the top 10 before handing it off to his co-driver, with Jönsson then taking the lead with a half-hour left, fending off several challenges to secure the win.
“After starting the year with two top 10 results and our first podium finish, we arrived at Barber Motorsports Park with high expectations and our sights set on earning Kia’s first-ever victory,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications at Kia Motors America. “With the proximity to KMMG, the Barber race was a bit of a homecoming for us, and the efforts of Michael, Nic and the entire Kinetic Motorsports crew led to this tremendous milestone. Notching our first win with a large number of Kia team members and dealers cheering us on made the result even more memorable.”
Kia’s second car, driven by Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood placed in the top 10.
If you missed the historic moment, don’t worry, SPEED will show a broadcast of the Barber 200 race Saturday, April 16 at 2:00 p.m. ET
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
Prancing Horse takes all but one of the top ten spots
In class normally dominated by Porsches, Ferrari showed its motorsports might at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this past weekend. Not only did Ferrari claim the top spot on the podium, it claimed all the others. As a matter of fact, Ferraris clinched nine of the top ten GT2 Class spots with position number five going to the Spkyer C8 Laviolette GT2R driven by Jarek Janis, Tom Coronel and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
The GT2 Class win went to car No. 82 F430 GT of the Risi Competizione Team driven by Jaime Melo, Mika Salo and Pierre Kaffer after completing 328 laps. This is the second year in a row a Risi Competizione car has won its class at Le Mans. The second Risi car, driven by Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele finished third. Between them was the BMS Scuderia Italia’s Ferrari with Fabio Babini, Matteo Malucelli and Paolo Ruberti at the wheel. The fourth position also belonged to Ferrari with British team JMW Motorsport and drivers Robert Bell, Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Sugden driving.
“I’m proud of this wonderful result. Four cars from Ferrari on the first four places in such a prestigious race is a great satisfaction and I want to congratulate the teams on the result; the teams have worked so hard to prepare the best way possible for this race. I especially want to thank Giuseppe Risi, who with his team has gained the second success in a row,” Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa said. “It was a tough race, especially at the beginning when the cars from Ferrari had to fight against very strong competitors like the Porsches. When night fell Risi’s car took over the lead and didn’t cede. I’m especially pleased by the fact that nine out of ten F430 GT which started into the race crossed the line; this is not only a sign of competitiveness, but also of the car’s great reliability.”
As mentioned, Ferraris then rounded out the top ten, with actor Patrick Dempsey piloting the Advanced Engineering car to a ninth-place finish with the help of co-drivers Joe Foster and Don Jr Kitch.