Kia Racing Announces Plans for Two Turbocharged Optimas to Compete in the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Championships


Championship-Winning Motorsports Program Expanding to New Series in Third-Year

  • Kia and Kinetic Motorsports continue partnership to build and campaign two Optima SXs in World Challenge

  • Additional motorsports activities for 2012 include B-Spec racing with the all-new 2012 Rio 5-door and Optima Hybrid serving as the official pace car at United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) events
  • LOS ANGELES, November 16, 2011 – It took the Kia Racing program just two seasons and 20 starts to capture Kia Motors America’s (KMA) first-ever championships in the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, and today at the Los Angeles Auto Show the company announced a major motorsports expansion for 2012 with two turbocharged Optimas set to enter the Pirelli World Challenge Championships. Continuing KMA’s successful partnership with Kinetic Motorsports, the World Challenge Optima SXs will compete in the Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class alongside established nameplates such as Mustang and Camaro at world-class race tracks across North America, including Road Atlanta, the street circuit in Long Beach, Calif., and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

    “As a brand with no previous racing experience in America, for Kia to win two motorsports championships in just its second year is an incredible accomplishment, and expanding our motorsports footprint with the turbocharged Optima entering World Challenge will continue to build passion and enthusiasm for the brand with an entirely new fan base at different race tracks across the country,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing communications, KMA. “With its aerodynamic styling and outstanding driving dynamics, the Optima SX should be well suited to the ultra-competitive environment of World Challenge racing.”

    Sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, World Challenge features world-class drivers and race-prepped versions of production vehicles from many of the world’s most popular manufacturers. The Kia Optimas will be the first Korean vehicles to compete in the series which includes a suspenseful standing start rather than the more common rolling start and is known for exciting door-to-door action throughout the 50-minute sprint races. For 2012, World Challenge races will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.

    Maintaining continuity in the Kia Racing program’s third-year, Kinetic Motorsports will build, develop and campaign the two Optima World Challenge cars while continuing Kia’s Forte Koup efforts in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Drivers for both programs will be announced in the near future.

    The Optima is not the only Kia vehicle being summoned for race track duty in 2012. At the recent Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, Kia announced that the all-new Rio 5-door will compete in the newly created B-Spec showroom stock series, while a tricked-out Optima Hybrid will serve as the USTCC’s official safety car beginning in March 2012.

    Race fans can follow Kia’s motorsports program, including the development of the Optima race cars, and receive live updates from the track at

    Design-Led Transformation and Product Line
    Kia Motors has undergone a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time, contributing to the brand’s continued gains in U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and brand growth through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technology. Kia’s commitment to the U.S. market is represented by its U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia KMMG which is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and added the critically-acclaimed Optima midsize sedan1 to its production line in September. Kia’s model year 2012 vehicle line includes the Sorento CUV, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, all-new Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

    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.

    Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle lineup is available at its website For media information, including photography, visit

    1 The Optima Hybrid will not be built at KMMG.

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