IRVINE, Calif., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Motors' fourth season of U.S. road racing competition heats up this weekend on the streets of Long Beach, and the Southern California-based automaker's commitment to motorsports will be on full display with Kia's first-ever presenting sponsorship of a Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) event. Coinciding with the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by Kia is Friday's introduction of the turbocharged Optima racing machine into Cie Games' Car Town, a leading social game on the Facebook platform, which allows its nearly 50 million lifetime players to collect and customize virtual cars in garages of their own design and participate in challenges.
"Everyone at Kia is proud of the outstanding performances our Optima racecars have delivered in a very short period of time as well as the fact that Kia is the first Korean manufacturer to compete in the highly competitive Pirelli World Challenge, and we are increasing our marketing efforts to further raise Kia's profile in the sport," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing and communications, Kia Motors America. "There will be a large contingent of Kia team members, family and friends in attendance at the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by Kia, which takes place less than 30 miles from our U.S. headquarters, and our integration into the wildly popular Car Town game gives auto enthusiasts a new way to engage and interact with our brand."
Fresh off a successful season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg, which included a top-five finish by driver Nic Jonsson, Kia Racing and its partner, Kinetic Motorsports, return to Southern California – scene of the Optima program's first podium finish one year ago – with high hopes for their second competitive outing in the unforgiving concrete canyon that is the temporary circuit at Long Beach.
Drivers Jonsson (No. 36) and Mark Wilkins (No. 38) know what it takes to master a demanding street circuit and look to put on a show for the crowd, which will include hundreds of Kia team members and dealers.
"It's always great to see fans, but to be this close to KMA's U.S. headquarters is especially exciting for us and makes it that much more special," said Jonsson. "We learned a lot about the cars coming away from St. Pete that we can now apply to Long Beach. With both tracks being temporary street circuits, there are a lot of similarities, and I think we'll have a good shot to repeat our podium finish from a year ago."
Kia currently sits third in the Manufacturer Championship for Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class cars, and Wilkins, following back-to-back sixth place finishes in the St. Pete doubleheader, is fifth in driver points heading into Round 3 at Long Beach.
"I feel like we're in a good place right now to score solid points and position ourselves for a run at a GTS championship," said Wilkins. "The Optima was very strong at St. Pete, and I feel like we have our car dialed in pretty nicely at this point. Long Beach is a tough track – on the car, the tires and the driver. I just plan to keep the No. 38 Kia up front and give our guests something to cheer about while scoring valuable points."
The Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by Kia begins at 4:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, April 21. Televised coverage is scheduled to air Sunday, May 5 at 11:00 a.m. PT 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 or 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 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 and LPGA. 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.
SOURCE Kia Motors America