- Forte Koup will enter GRAND-AM KONI Sports Car Challenge Series Street Tuner (ST) Class
- Kia Motors and Kinetic Group team up to build and campaign race cars for the automaker's first-ever auto racing efforts on U.S. soil
- Decorated drivers Nic Jonsson and Andy Lally to pilot #10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup race car
(Seoul) November 4, 2009 - The motto of the all-new 2010 Kia Forte Koup (known as 'Cerato' in some countries) - "One Hot Ride" - took on a new meaning today as Kia Motors America (KMA) unveiled its U.S. motorsports program at the 2009 SEMA Show. KMA has teamed with the Kinetic Group to build and campaign two Forte Koups in the 2010 GRAND-AM KONI Sports Car Challenge Series in the Street Tuner (ST) class.
"The Forte Koup is the latest chapter in the dramatic Kia brand transformation story, and the decision to enter into the motorsports arena was an easy one to make," said Michael Sprague, Vice President of Marketing, KMA. "The Forte Koup's performance-inspired styling and outstanding driving dynamics make it a natural fit for road racing, and competing in GRAND-AM's KONI Challenge Series enables us to reach an entirely new and passionate base of automotive enthusiasts."
The GRAND-AM KONI Challenge Street Tuner (ST) class utilizes production-based race cars and has a wide variety of vehicles from the U.S., Europe and Asia, using weight and intake restrictions to maintain a level playing field for all entrants.
"We researched every form of auto racing in the U.S. to find a fan base that was aligned with our target demographics, and found GRAND-AM to be the perfect fit," said Sprague. "In addition to working with the Kinetic Group, we are also proud that Infinity Audio, whose high-end audio systems are offered in several Kia vehicles, will join us as the Official Sponsor of the #10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup Race Car during our inaugural motorsports season."
As part of its motorsports team development, KMA identified and partnered with the Kinetic Group to develop, build and campaign two Forte Koup KONI Challenge spec cars. Based outside of Atlanta, Kinetic provides a comprehensive array of in-house services, including fabrication, composites, paint and body, engine and electronics departments. Kinetic's staff of engineers, mechanics and crew have extensive race experience in many series, including NASCAR, Indy Racing League, the American Le Mans Series and the GRAND-AM KONI Challenge Series.
Completing the team, decorated drivers Nic Jonsson and Andy Lally have been secured to drive the #10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup entry in the GRAND-AM KONI Challenge Series in 2010. Joining Jonsson and Lally are Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood, past KONI ST champions to pilot the second team race car.
"We expect the Forte Koup to be a strong competitor in the GRAND-AM KONI Challenge Series starting with the first race in Daytona, and the fact that drivers of Nic and Andy's caliber along with Adam and Trevor have joined the team reinforces that expectation," said Sprague. "Building on our involvement in the GRAND-AM KONI Challenge Series and in an effort to introduce the Kia brand to even more racing fans, apparel maker GoGoGear.com has created a highly modified version of the popular Soul urban passenger vehicle which will serve as the official pace car at several races throughout the 2010 US Touring Car Championship (USTCC) season."
About the Drivers
Nic Jonsson made his first professional start in 1989 and was the Scandinavian Formula 3 champion in 1990 and 1991. In 1992 he won the Scandinavian Touring Car title and finished second in the European Formula 3 cup. Jonsson has raced touring cars, sports cars and Indy cars all over the world and has competed in the American Le Mans series as well as the SPEED World Challenge Touring car series. Jonsson, who is a highly sought-after test and development driver, scored his first GRAND-AM victory in 2005 at the Six Hours at The Glen. Outside of sports car racing, Jonsson has trained the Swedish royal family and secret-service agents in high-performance and self-defense driving. A native of Sweden, Jonsson is the co-founder and owner of Kinetic Speed Shop.
In the last seven years, driver Andy Lally has three professional championships - 2006, 2004 and 2001 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series - and recently won the 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GT class. In addition to three Championships and two Rolex 24 wins, Lally currently holds the record for most top 3 and top 5 finishes in GRAND-AM Rolex Series history as well as the record for most podium finishes in a single season. He is third on the all time win list and the only three-time Rolex Series Champion. Lally also has stock car racing experience, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Craftsman Trucks, ARCA and Goodies Dash.
A past KONI ST champion, Adam Burrows had years of Spec Racer competition under his belt before deciding to move up to the highly competitive Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge, winning the ST Class Championship in his rookie season.
Trevor Hopwood had racing in his blood after earning his stripes as a winner in Spec Racers. Hopwood moved up to run in GT-1 before taking on the endurance format of KONI Challenge. The New Hampshire resident won the championship in his rookie year, and backed that up with two wins and another strong result in the championship the next season, his first year of racing a front-wheel drive machine.
About Kinetic Group
Kinetic is an automotive group that includes Kinetic Motorsports, Kinetic-Sunbelt Engines, and Kinetic Speed Shop. Kinetic Motorsports taps into every aspect of professional and amateur racing, from car builds to prep and trackside support. Every resource needed to develop, manage and run a professional race team in any series is located on-site. Kinetic-Sunbelt Engines have powered amateur and professional racers to numerous championships in North America. Kinetic Speed Shop caters to aftermarket street performance. Kinetic's 42,000 square foot, state-of-the-art showroom and race complex is located in Buford, Georgia, just 15 minutes from Road Atlanta. More information can be found online at www.kssmotorsports.com.
Editor's note: Related Forte Koup footage available at Kia Motors' Multimedia Library (www.kiamotors.com), powered by The NewsMarket. You can get broadcast-standard or streaming-quality video (for Web use) and print-quality stills. Delivery options include digital FTP transfer and streaming download in a variety of file types including Flash, MPEG-2, QuickTime and Windows Media. Registration and content is free to the media.
Kia Motors Corporation (www.kia.com) -- a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart -- was founded in 1944 and is Korea's oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. As part of the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Kia aims to become one of the world's premier automotive brands. Nearly 1.5 million vehicles a year are produced in 13 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering 172 countries. Kia today has over 40,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of over US$14.5 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA -- the governing body of the FIFA World Cup -- as well as a EUROTOP partner of UEFA. Kia Motors Corporation's brand slogan -- "The Power to Surprise" -- represents the company's global commitment to surpassing customer expectations through continuous automotive innovation.