AUSTIN, Texas, May 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Like a bull rider in a Texas rodeo, Mark Wilkins grabbed the reins of his No. 38 turbocharged Optima and rode it to a well-deserved and hard-fought second-place finish Sunday in Round Five of the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) at the world-renowned Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The relentless Texas heat wreaked havoc on drivers and tires alike, but Wilkins managed the race well from the driver's seat and held off Jack Baldwin's hard-charging Porsche Cayman S for the second step on the podium after a late caution flag bunched up the field of 51 cars with less than 10 minutes to go.
"It was a great weekend for Kia Racing. To grab our first podium of the year feels darn good. The Kinetic crew did an awesome job preparing the No. 38 Optima, and the adjustments they made for Sunday's race paid dividends," said Wilkins, who had never driven COTA until this weekend. "We learned a lot from Round Four on Saturday about tire wear, so on Sunday we focused on being patient and more consistent with the car. The Optima performs so well that, naturally, you want to push it, but we had to make sure we had traction left at the end of the race, and I think our results show that we did a good job of tire management on Sunday."
Wilkins' podium finish moved him up from fourth to third in the Driver Championship as the series turns to another doubleheader weekend in Detroit at the end of May.
Teammate Nic Jonsson drove his No. 36 turbocharged Optima to fifth place in Round Four on Saturday, following fourth-placed Wilkins across the line. Kia Racing's momentum continued into Sunday, with the Optimas running third and fourth throughout much of Round Five's 50-minute contest. With a little over 10 minutes remaining, however, a full-course caution bunched up the field, and on the ensuing restart, Jonsson made heavy contact with the second-place Camaro heading up the hill into turn one. The jarring hit broke the front-right suspension and brake rotor, and Jonsson subsequently collided with the race-leading Camaro, damaging his own car to such an extent that he was unable to continue. Jonsson was credited with a 22nd-place finish and slipped to ninth in the Driver Championship.
"We had a really good car Sunday, and after the caution flag, I felt like we had something for the GTS leaders; I had been saving the tires for the end and this was my chance to make a move," said Jonsson, who was running third at the time of the incident. "I had a run on the second-place car heading up the hill, but everyone is battling for every inch of race track out there and we just got together. Once that happened, I lost my brakes and couldn't avoid further contact. It's unfortunate I collected Lawson while he was in the lead."
Kia Motors America remains third in the Manufacturer point standings following COTA as the PWC series now turns to the Motor City on May 31-June 2 for Rounds Six and Seven.
Televised coverage of Rounds Four and Five from Circuit of the Americas is scheduled to air Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET 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 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 Cadenza flagship sedan, 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 – 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