KIA FORTE KOUPS MAKE CALIFORNIA RACING DEBUT THIS WEEKEND AT ROUND EIGHT OF THE GRAND-AM CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE
Kia Racing Returns to Action After Victory at Road America
IRVINE, Calif., July 07, 2011 – On the heels of Kia Racing’s second GRAND-AM victory of the year at Road America last month, the Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koups return to the track in Kia Motors America’s (KMA) home state of California for the eighth round of the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With three races remaining in the CTSCC season, Kia Racing and partner Kinetic Motorsports have their sights set on improving in the ST Engine Manufacturer standings, while the No. 10 Forte Koup piloted by Michael Galati and Nic Jnsson aims to keep the top spot in the ST Team standings and Jnsson currently the top ST driver hopes to inch closer to a championship.
Following Kia Racing’s second victory at last month’s Road America 200, Michael Galati and Nic Jnsson will co-drive the No. 10 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koup on Saturday in the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Photo Credit: Melissa K. Smith Photography
With renewed momentum following the win at Road America, Kia’s second-year racing program heads to the West Coast where it will be greeted at the track in Salinas, Calif., by a large traveling party of KMA team members from the company’s U.S. headquarters as well as a large contingent of dealers from throughout the Northern California area. The 2.24-mile, 11-turn road course with elevation changes and sweeping high-speed turns should make for an exciting race and play to the Forte Koup’s strengths.
“Our second win of the season has given the entire Kia family cause for celebration, but we still have three races left to go this season,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing communications, KMA. “A big group of KMA team members and Kia dealers from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are looking forward to welcoming the team to California, and after the success at Road America we are confident that the Forte Koups’ outstanding handling and braking characteristics will match up well with Laguna Seca’s challenging layout.”
Co-drivers of the No. 12 Forte Koup Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood will celebrate their 50th race start as a team this weekend hoping to improve upon their sixth-place finish at Road America.
The race will be broadcast on Sunday, July 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET on the SPEED Channel. Race fans can follow Kia’s motorsports program and receive live updates at www.facebook.com/kiaracing.
Road America 200 Race Recap
Following disappointing outings at Lime Rock Park and Watkins Glen International, Kia Racing headed to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. with an eye on improving in all three CTSCC standings Street Tuner (ST) Driver, Team, and Manufacturer. The No. 10 and 12 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koups returned to the track for their second-consecutive evening race and made their debut on the famed Wisconsin road course.
Coming into the Road America 200, the team knew that the long straights and elevation changes would put the Forte Koups at a disadvantage against more powerful turbocharged competitors. And yet, despite the challenge Road America presented, the Kinetic Motorsports team was confident the Forte Koups’ superior braking and handling characteristics as well as the tremendous skill of the drivers Jnsson and Galati in the No. 10 car and Burrows and Hopwood in the No. 12 car would keep them competitive during the race.
Benefitting from several weeks of preparation time at Kinetic Motorsports’ headquarters in Buford, Georgia, both race cars exceeded the team’s initial expectations during early practice sessions. Qualifying proved that the solid practice performances were not an anomaly as the No. 12 car piloted by Hopwood secured the seventh position on the grid and Galati nabbed the third spot in the No. 10 car. It quickly became evident that the Forte Koup’s advantages in the braking and cornering zones would keep them competitive throughout the race.
Galati started behind-the-wheel of the No. 10 Forte Koup and spent nearly all of his time in the car fending off relentless attacks from more powerful cars. Meanwhile, Hopwood started in the No. 12 car and found himself running nose-to-tail with teammate Galati just minutes into the event. The duo skillfully beat back challenges from turbocharged competitors to stay in 5th and 6th place until an accident at the 20 minute-mark resulted in a full course caution.
The No. 10 and 12 cars continued in 5th and 6th and then 4th and 5th places leading up to the 1.5 hour mark. Following incident-free racing for the first 20 minutes, accidents and mechanical issues involving competitors kept the track under yellow several times for the first half of the Road America 200.
After making a strategic decision to stay out during a full course caution at 45 minutes, the Kinetic team brought Galati and No. 10 in for pit stop with just over an hour left to go in the 2.5 hour race. A flawless pit stop to change tires and add fuel allowed new driver Jnsson to rejoin the race while still under caution and in the same overall position (fourth) as Galati had entered pit row.
Hopwood used a full course caution at the 1.5 hour mark to his advantage and quickly navigated the No. 12 car to the top position once the full course caution was lifted. An additional full course caution just minutes later brought No. 12 back to pit row to replace tires, add fuel and switch drivers.
A longer than expected stop moved the No. 12 car back to 12th position, but that minor setback did not deter new driver Burrows as he moved up to 9th position in just 20 minutes and eventually took sixth place with 25 minutes left in the race.
While Burrows was moving through the field, Jnsson maneuvered his way into the top three with 45 minutes left to race and entered into a fierce battle for first with a Volkswagen GTI. The multi-lap battle grew more exciting as the No. 18 BMW the fastest ST-class car on the track joined in the competition for the lead with 30 minutes remaining. A few minutes later, Jnsson’s extraordinary driving pushed his Forte Koup into the lead, just before the BMW experienced a mechanical issue that sent the car hard into a concrete barrier. While the driver was unhurt, the impact caused significant damage to a retaining wall and ultimately required the race to end under a yellow flag.
The untimely end to the race hastened a well-deserved victory for the Kia Racing team the second win of the season for Jnsson and Galati and a sixth place finish for the No. 12 car team BurHop’s best finish of the 2011 season. The Road America race marked the second time this year both Forte Koups finished in the top 10.
The Road America victory propelled Kia’s second-year motorsports program and racing partner Kinetic Motorsports to the top of the ST team and driver standings. In addition, the team’s outstanding performance at Road America moved Kia to the third position in the ST engine manufacturer standings.
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 730 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.
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.