KIA RACING WINS FIRST-EVER GRAND-AM ROAD RACING CHAMPIONSHIPS September 23rd, 2011

The No. 10 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koup took top honors in the Street Tuner (ST) class at the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) race in Alabama!

Drivers Nic Jonsson and Michael Galati captured Kia’s first-ever GRAND-AM championship on Sept. 17 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kia and racing partner Kinetic Motorsports entered the season finale at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with narrow three-point leads in both standings. Co-drivers Nic Jönsson and Michael Galati used the Forte Koup’s braking, handling and fuel-efficiency advantages on the 13-turn circuit to battle a field of more than 30 competitors during the 2.5-hour race, propelling Kia to its first-ever GRAND-AM road racing championships.

After qualifying in the third position on Sept. 16, Michael Galati maneuvered the No. 10 Forte Koup into second place at the 30-minute mark before a full course caution went into effect and all of the top five ST cars headed to pit row for a driver change and refueling. Galati climbed out, and Jönsson jumped behind the wheel for the final two hours of the race.

Jönsson steered the No. 10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup to victory when it crossed the finish line in seventh place for the Street Tuner class, good enough to earn Kia the driver and team championships in the season’s final race at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. Co-driver Michael Galati helped pave the way, holding second place at the 30-minute mark before switching out with Jönsson for the final two hours of the race.

But it was no easy feat, as Jönsson battled it out in the 71-car field against two Minis and two Mazda3s that held court the top five positions for most of the race. With 30-minutes to go in the race, Jönsson executed a perfect inside pass of one of the MazdaSpeed3s and moved the No. 10 Forte Koup into fourth place. Just a few laps later, the first-place MINI lost all power and a full-course caution was issued, with Jönsson now sitting in third place.

Once the green flag waved again, Jönsson managed to cross the finish line in seventh place as his Kinetic Motorsports teammates began celebrating Kia and Kinetic Motorsports’ first-ever GRAND-AM road racing titles on pit row.

Shot of the entire Kinetic Motorsports team with the championship-winning #10 Koup at the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season-ending banquet in Cleveland, OH.

The two-car Kia Racing team won two of the ten races during the season and finished in the top 10 in all but one race. After winning the championship, Jönsson said “Second-year motorsports programs are not supposed to win championships, but Kia Motors and Kinetic Motorsports have been committed to being the best since we formed our partnership in late-2009. The Kia Forte Koups have been fantastic since getting off the truck at Daytona in January thanks to the tireless dedication of the team. We couldn’t be happier with the end result, and I have to thank Michael Galati whose skill and experience was invaluable in this championship run.”

The winning run will be televised September 25 at 1 p.m. ET on SPEED.

You can also follow the team’s progress at www.facebook.com/kiaracing.