Kia Racing Scores Thrilling Pirelli World Challenge Victory at Miller Motorsports Park

Mark Wilkins Starts the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima Turbo From Pole Position and Leads Flag-to-Flag in Round 13 on Saturday

  •  With dramatic drag race to the checkered flag, Kia Racing teammate Ben Clucas scores podium finish behind the wheel of the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo in round 14 on Sunday
  • Jason Wolfe, pilot of the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, sweeps the Touring Car A (TCA) weekend with three wins for the Kinetic Motorsports privateer program

IRVINE, Calif., August 24, 2015 –Kia Racing scored a hard-fought victory and notched another podium finish during rounds 13 and 14 of the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP) in Tooele, Utah, this past weekend.  Starting from the pole for round 13 on Saturday, Kia Racing pilot Mark Wilkins, in the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo, battled nose-to-tail with Jack Baldwin’s No. 73 Porsche Cayman for most of the thrilling 50-minute contest. Through careful management of tire wear, Wilkins was able to hold off Baldwin to take the checkered flag – the first win of the 2015 season for defending PWC Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class Manufacturer Champion Kia.

“This win was huge for Kia and for Kinetic Motorsports. The Kia Optima has always been fast, but we’ve been working hard this year with different car setups and race strategy, all in an effort to manage our front tire wear so we have enough traction left at the end of the race to battle with the Porsches, Mustangs and Camaros,” said Wilkins, who set a new GTS lap record at MMP during qualifying with a 1:56.620 time and an average speed of 94.090 mph around the three-mile-long circuit.  “I’m not sure I could’ve held Jack (Baldwin) off another lap.  I knew he’d be strong at the end of the race like he always is, but we had just enough today to get the Optima back into victory circle where it belongs.”

Kia Racing teammate Ben Clucas, in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo, started Saturday’s round 13 alongside Wilkins, making it an all-Kia front row as the GTS field took the green flag.  Clucas battled mightily throughout the race and eventually crossed the line in fourth place for a solid top-five result.

Based on fastest laps during round 13, Wilkins and Clucas started Sunday’s round 14 from third and fourth, respectively.  Clucas’ No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo got off to a tremendous start and moved up from fourth to second as the 19-car GTS field barreled into turn one.  Once there, Clucas made a bold move deep in the braking zone to overtake the leader in turn five.  He would lead for 12 laps, but ultimately, the desert heat and abrasive track surface would take their toll on the Optima’s front tires, leaving Clucas vulnerable to attack.  After a grueling 50 minutes of racing, Clucas out-dragged Baldwin’s No. 73 Porsche Cayman by a mere .036 seconds for a photo finish to claim third place – his fourth podium of the season.  Wilkins was not far behind, adding another top-five finish to Kia Racing’s record.

“I knew our only chance to run up front was to get a good start and try to put some distance between myself and everyone else early in the race, and I got an amazing launch off the line with a run on the outside heading into turn one, so I took the opportunity to pass for the lead and was able to make it stick,” said Clucas, who earned the “Best Standing Start” award for round 14. “It’s a great result for Kia and for our team, who perhaps exorcised some demons at this track where we haven’t had much luck in previous years.  I’m happy for Mark, who got the win in round 13 and look forward to Sonoma next weekend.”

Just as the factory-backed GTS Optima program enjoyed success at MMP, so too did the Kinetic Motorsports Touring Car A (TCA) Forte Koup privateer program.  Current points leader and defending TCA Driver Champion Jason Wolfe swept the weekend in the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup.  Wolfe qualified fastest, started on pole for all three races and led each race flag-to-flag, adding to his points lead in the TCA Driver Championship.  Kris Wright, pilot of the No. 34 Wright Automotive Kia Forte Koup, scored his first podium of the season with a third-place result in round 13 on Friday.  Samantha Tan, driver of the No. 38 Gum Products International (GPI) Kia Forte Koup, also recorded her best finish of the year with a fourth-place result in round 13.

The GTS teams now quickly pack up and head to Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, for rounds 15 and 16 on August 28-30.  The TCA teams have a short break before all the PWC classes converge on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, September 11-13 for their respective season finale events.  Tape-delayed televised coverage of the GTS doubleheader weekend at MMP will air on the CBS Sports Network (air date and time TBA).

GTS round 15 at Sonoma Raceway takes place Saturday, August 29, at 4:45 p.m. ET, 1:45 p.m. PT, followed by round 16 on Sunday, August 30, at 11:40 a.m. ET, 8:40 a.m. PT.  Live-streamed coverage of all PWC races is available online at www.world-challengetv.com, and race fans can keep up-to-date with the Kia Racing team via the Kia Motors America Facebook and Instagram pages, and on Twitter @Kia.

KIA RACING PREPARES FOR BACK-TO-BACK PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE EVENTS AT MILLER MOTORSPORTS PARK AND SONOMA RACEWAY

– Engineers, Crew and Drivers of Kinetic Motorsports Team are Put to the Test
– During Tough West Coast Swing
– 2,700-mile journey covers two tracks and four races within one week
– 4,400-foot elevation of Miller Motorsports Park adds another dimension to careful preparation of Kia Racing’s championship-winning turbocharged Optimas
IRVINE, Calif., August 21, 2015 – As the grueling 18-race Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season heads into its final rounds, the Buford, Georgia-based Kia Racing team faces a challenging West Coast swing for rounds 13 and 14 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, August 21-23 and rounds 15 and 16 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, just four days later.  On top of the logistical difficulties of operating 2,000 miles away from their home base for back-to-back races, the vast differences between the two road courses pose an additional challenge to the team. In addition to considering variables related to track lengths and configurations, the engineers must also factor in Miller’s 4,400-foot elevation and the “atmospheric correction” required by PWC rules for Kia’s turbocharged Optimas.
“At higher elevations the air density is much different than at sea level, and our turbocharged engines have an advantage because they are less impacted by the thinner air than are the normally aspirated engines of our competitors,” said Russell Smith, team owner, Kinetic Motorsports.  “To keep the playing field as level as possible, the series officials have written an ‘atmospheric correction’ factor into the rule book, which is a formula that lowers our turbo boost in proportion to the barometric pressure at any given track. The challenge is that we have to get it absolutely right. If our cars over-boost at any point during the race weekend, our times would be disqualified for that session, so the stakes are pretty high.”
As the rest of the team is busy calculating altitude adjustments and attempting to pack every conceivable tool and spare part they could need during their cross-country trek, Kia Racing driver Ben Clucas, pilot of the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo, is preparing to make his first start at Miller.  Contrary to Ben, teammate Mark Wilkins, in the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo, is ready for his second visit to Tooele, where last year he narrowly missed out on the driver championship during the 2014 season finale.  Wilkins scored pole position in qualifying for the penultimate round but suffered a broken axle at the start of the race that took him out of contention.  Thanks to his successful season to that point, however, he hung on to finish third in the GTS Driver Championship, and Kia went on to win the 2014 Manufacturer Championship.
In addition to the factory-backed GTS Optimas, Kinetic Motorsports’ trio of privately entered Touring Car A (TCA) Forte Koups will be facing a back-to-back challenge of their own at Miller. TCA points leader and defending driver champion Jason Wolfe and teammates Kris Wright and Samantha Tan visit Tooele just one week after Wolfe scored two wins behind the wheel of his No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Both GTS Optimas and all three TCA Fortes will stay on the West Coast for their respective season finales, which are scheduled for September 11-13 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California.
GTS round 13 of the PWC at Miller Motorsports Park takes place Saturday, August 22, at 5:10 p.m. ET.  Round 14 begins Sunday, August 23, at 11:45 a.m. ET.  Tape-delayed televised coverage of the GTS doubleheader weekend will air on the CBS Sports Network (air date and time TBA).
TCA round 13 at Miller Motorsports Park takes place Friday, August 21, at 1:40 p.m. ET, followed by round 14 on Saturday, August 22, at 10:30 a.m. ET and round 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
GTS round 15 at Sonoma Raceway takes place Saturday, August 29, at 4:45 p.m. ET, followed by round 16 on Sunday, August 30, at 11:40 a.m. ET.  Live-streamed coverage of all PWC races is available online at www.world-challengetv.com, and race fans can keep up-to-date with the Kia Racing team via the Kia Motors America Facebook and Instagram pages, and on Twitter @Kia.

Kia Forte Koup Privateer Program Scores Back-To-Back Victories at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

  • Defending class champion Jason Wolfe, pilot of the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, wins rounds 10 and 11 of the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car A season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • Jason Wolfe’s victories propel him back to the top of the Touring Car A (TCA) Driver Championship standings with six races remaining
  • Kinetic Motorsports teammate Kris Wright, in the No. 34 Wright Automotive Kia Forte Koup, earns a pair of top-five finishes and moves to fifth in Driver Championship

IRVINE, Calif., August 17, 2015 – Defending Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Touring Car A (TCA) Class Driver Champion and Ohio-native Jason Wolfe, pilot of the No. 36 Richard Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup fielded by Kinetic Motorsports, scored back-to-back wins at his home track in rounds 10 and 11 of the 18-race PWC season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this past weekend. The 2014 PWC TCA Rookie of the Year earned pole position and led both races from start to finish, retaking the lead in the 2015 TCA Driver Championship standings. Only a broken halfshaft in Saturday’s round 12 prevented him from making a clean sweep of the weekend.

“As a driving instructor here when I’m not racing, I am very familiar with this track, so I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long time,” said Wolfe, who has six podium finishes on the year, including three wins. “Once I got the pole position in qualifying, some of the pressure went away, but I knew I had to win here or else I’d never hear the end of it from my family, friends and fellow instructors. The Kia Forte Koup performed flawlessly, and the Kinetic Motorsports crew gave me a great car as always. All I had to do was execute, and we were able to do that.”

Meanwhile, Wolfe’s Kinetic Motorsports teammate, Kris Wright, in the No. 34 Wright Automotive Kia Forte Koup, finished in the top five in rounds 10 and 11, narrowly missing his first podium of the season with a hard-fought fourth-place result in round 11. Wright’s consistent performance has moved him to fifth in the TCA Driver Championship standing.

Drivers and crew now turn quickly to the next TCA event on the schedule, Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, August 21-22 for rounds 13, 14, and 15. Round 13 takes place Friday, August 21, at 1:40 p.m. ET, followed by round 14 on Saturday, August 22, at 10:30 a.m. ET and round 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET. Live-streamed coverage of all PWC races is available online at www.world-challengetv.com, and race fans can keep up-to-date with the Kia Racing team via the Kia Motors America Facebook and Instagram pages, and on Twitter @Kia.