DAILY - UPDATED
2013 Kia Racing – Turbocharged Optima Drivers Announced
The 2013 Pirelli World Challenge -PWC season is right around the corner, and Kia Racing, alongside partner Kinetic Motorsports have now announced who will drive their cars.
Nic Jonsson, a veteran and the man who piloted the Kia Forte Koup to a rod racing championship at the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Challenge -CTSCC, will be behind the wheel of the No. 36 turbocharged Optima.
Canadian Mark Wilkins, who put in a stellar effort during his rookie season in 2012, will return behind the wheel of the No. 38 turbocharged Kia Optima.
Wilkins wowed fans last year with a pole, a win, and a pair of podium finishes for Kia Racing. The PWC season kicks off at the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 23rd.
The Kia Racing team is already working hard in preparation for the big day.
Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing and communications, KMA, said that the team had done far better than anyone expected during their first year of competition in the Pirelli World Challenge.
He said that the two wins and six podium finishes, combined with a perfect reliability record was a great way to begin in their development year, and he hopes that it bodes well for a possible championship run in the coming season.
Kia Racing has decided to take a step back from the Grand-Am competition to focus on the Pirelli World Challenge.
That means that Jonnson, as well as CTSCC Kia Forte Koup co-driver Andy Lally will be making the switched to the more powerful Kia Optima Turbo, Jonnson, who almost won the Grand Am championship last season, should be quite comfortable with the switch, though, since he played in role in the test-driving duties that took place in the development program before the car was entered into the 2012 PWC.
Jonnson said that he believed the Optima would do very well in the GT class, despite the fact that there was very little time to develop the car for the racing circuit.
He was delighted with last year’s results and feels that with a season of development now in the can, the 2013 season should prove to be even more promising. He went on to say the he looked forward to the challenge and to working with fellow driver Mark Wilkins.
Jonnson also explained just how competitive the Pirelli World Challenge was, with many great cars and drivers. He said that it was his job to take the fight to the competition to show them that Kia belongs with all the other high-performance brands.
Wilkins is returning to Kia Racing after joining them mid-season in 2012. He made an instant impact last year, capturing the pole, a victory and a podium finish in his first race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
The methodical approach that he brought to the team played a major role in the development of the Optima racecar, which has put Kia Racing in prime position to do well this season.
Wilkins said that he was delighted to be back behind the wheel of the turbocharged Optima after a great rookie season.
He also said the he was relishing the prospect of Nic, as opposed to competing against him on the track like he has done in the past. He truly feels that Kia can make some noise in the GTS class.
Kia Racing get started in the 2013 PWC, taking part in rounds 1-2 in St. Petersburg, FL, on March 23-24. Fans wanting to keep up to date with the action can do so at at world-challengetv.com