IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) championship points battle is red hot heading into this weekend's season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Kia Racing, and its competition partner Kinetic Motorsports, enter the EMCO Gears Classic leading the ST division's Driver and Team standings. The No. 10 and 12 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koups will take to the track for the final time this year set on winning Kia's first-ever road racing championship—a potentially spectacular accomplishment for the brand's young motorsports program in just its second year.
With more than a month between races, the Kia team has been preparing for the championship chase and will look to capitalize on the Infinity Audio Forte Koups' tremendous handling and braking performance around the fast, 2.26-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio road course. The race will be especially exciting for fans as the top four ST pilots are within just nine points of each other in the Driver standings, with Kia's Nic Jonsson leading by a slim three-point margin.
"It has been a historic racing season so far for Kia, and with just one race to go in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season we are extremely proud of the performance of the entire Kia and Kinetic Motorsports team as our Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koups battle for a championship in just our second year of professional competition," said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA. "Notching our first-ever GRAND-AM wins and podium appearances is a tremendous accomplishment following 2010's development year, and bringing home a championship would exceed our wildest expectations."
The EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio will be televised on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. ET on SPEED. Race fans can follow Kia motorsports' run for the championship and receive live updates at www.facebook.com/kiaracing.
New Jersey Motorsports Park Race Recap
With just two races remaining in the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) season, Kia Racing arrived at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Millville, N.J., with plans for another strong performance to secure more points and pad its lead in the ST Driver and Team standings. Coming off consecutive top-five finishes at Road America and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the team was confident entering NJMP and remained focused on championship positioning for Nic Jonsson and the No. 10 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koup.
Mother Nature made her presence known with a heat index well above 120 degrees Fahrenheit on the track, which proved to be a challenge for drivers, crew members, cars, and even race fans. As a result of the blistering heat, a lack of grip and tire wear were major issues, and drivers became fatigued quickly due to the intense temperature inside the cars. The combination led to altered pit strategies for both the No. 10 and No. 12 cars for Saturday's race as the team planned to make two driver switches during the race instead of the usual one.
The weekend started out well for Kia Racing, with both Koups logging competitive lap times during practice on Friday morning, but a broken steering rack in the No. 10 car required replacement before qualifying on Saturday morning.
With repairs complete, Jonsson qualified the No. 10 car in fifth place, while Adam Burrows qualified the No. 12 car in 10th. The two Koups posted their closest lap times ever during qualifying – just three-tenths of a second apart.
The B+ Foundation Heroes 200 started in the peak of mid-afternoon heat, and championship-leading driver Jonsson immediately began advancing his position in the early stages of the race, eventually doing battle for first place in ST with a MazdaSpeed3 and taking the lead just a few laps into the 2.5-hour race. Burrows also began moving up, climbing to eighth before a full-course caution for debris came out at the 30-minute mark.
After several cautions and a round of ST pit stops, Jonsson in the No. 10 car was in first place and Hopwood in the No. 12 car was in sixth place at about the one-hour mark when yet another full-course caution came out. After the lengthy caution flag to clean up fluids, the No. 10 car came to pit road when the race went green, surrendering first place as Jonsson hopped out and Michael Galati got in.
With about 50 minutes to go in the race, another full-course caution came out. Many ST cars came to pit road, including Hopwood who was running third. Galati, meanwhile, was 24th and picked up several positions as competitors came to pit row. Burrows climbed back in the No. 12 car, and the team mounted new front tires and fueled the Koup before sending him back out.
Galati and Burrows began climbing through the field, and were up to 11th and 15th, respectively, with 45 minutes to go. The Koups continued to pick up positions and with 25 minutes to go were running nose-to-tail in 10th and 11th before another full-course caution bunched the field back up for what would be an exciting ending for the fans – but a disastrous one for Galati in the No. 10 car.
With only 10 minutes to go in the race, an ST Miata and Boxster were battling for position in front of Galati when they made contact and spun on the track. As they were spinning, Galati took evasive action, but the Miata spun directly in front of Galati leaving him unable to avoid a collision. The impact resulted in heavy damage to the Koup's front end. Galati was able to bring the Koup to pit road where the crew began feverishly working on the car to get it back on track to gain as many championship points as possible, but the team ran out of time when the race finished under yellow with the No. 10 car listed in 24th. Burrows in the No. 12 Koup finished the race in eighth place for a solid top-ten run.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) 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 745 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA." In 2010, KMA recorded its best-ever U.S. sales and 16th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technologies.
SOURCE Kia Motors America