Kia Racing Revs Up For 2013 Pirelli World Challenge Season Opener On The Streets Of St. Petersburg

Kia Racing Ready for Sophomore Season in Grand Touring Sport (GTS) Competition After Very Successful Rookie Season in 2012

- Former Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge champion, Nic Jonsson, migrates from Kia's Grand-Am road racing program to pilot the No. 36 turbocharged Optima

- Mark Wilkins returns for second year behind-the-wheel of the No. 38 turbocharged Optima after notching a pole, a win and two podium finishes in Kia Racing's strong development year

Mar 21, 2013, 06:00 ET from Kia Motors America

IRVINE, Calif., March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Racing and partner Kinetic Motorsports return to the racetrack this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the kickoff the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season.  The No. 36 and No. 38 turbocharged Optimas will take the green flag for Round 1 on Saturday, March 23.  Building on the brand's successful rookie season – a "development" year that included two wins, six podium finishes and a flawless reliability record – the team is eager to get back to competition after a winter off-season spent dialing-in the Optimas in hopes of making a run at a GTS-class championship in 2013.


"As we enter our fourth year of road racing in the U.S., the Kia Racing program has been a huge success story for our brand and has allowed us to demonstrate the durability and performance of our vehicles while reaching an entirely new audience," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications, KMA. "Beginning an all-new season in the Pirelli World Challenge with the turbocharged Optimas and two experienced and talented drivers behind the wheel is exciting for us, and we have set our sights high for 2013."

The start of the racing season may only be days away, but the Kia Racing team has been hard at work for months in preparation for St. Petersburg.  Soon after the 2012 season finale in Sonoma, the turbocharged Optimas returned to Kinetic's Buford, Ga., shop to be stripped down and meticulously rebuilt from the ground up, every bolt inspected, every weld examined.

"There wasn't much 'off' in the off-season for Kia Racing," said Russell Smith, co-owner of Kinetic Motorsports. "In addition to the work we did in the shop, we were able to conduct a proper on-track testing and development program, which, for reasons of timing, we weren't able to do before the start of last season. The insights we've gained and the progress we've made have us feeling pretty good for the first race, but we're going need everything we've got because the level of competition in the World Challenge has only got better in the interim."

Kia made history at St. Petersburg last year when it became the first Korean car company to compete in the PWC, bringing home two top-ten finishes in Rounds 1 and 2 at the 1.8-mile 14-turn temporary St. Petersburg street circuit.

Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2013 PWC take place on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 at St. Petersburg, Fla.  The green flags fly at 5:00 p.m. ET and 10:25 a.m. ET, respectively.  Race fans can tune in online for live race coverage at, and catch the latest news and updates from the track at and can follow the team on 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.  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 – For media information, including photography, visit  To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at

* 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