Pirelli World Challenge GTS Optima
Kia Motors America (KMA) today brought the sights and sounds of the race track to the opening day of the 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. Just five years after the brand boldly announced its intention to enter professional motorsports in the U.S. at the 2009 SEMA Show, KMA marked its second title-winning season, celebrating the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturers Championship. Kia’s “A Day at the Races” 2014 SEMA display commemorates Kia’s racing success and demonstrates the imprint motorsports has left on the brand’s DNA, encompassing both the thrill of high-speed competition as well as the fun and excitement that fans experience trackside.
“Competing – and winning – in the Pirelli World Challenge series allows Kia to provide tangible proof of the quality, durability, reliability and performance of the vehicles we build,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, sales & marketing, KMA. “This year’s SEMA show gives us the opportunity to celebrate our hard-fought championships while also embracing the fun and excitement of the fan experience in a way that only Kia could do.”
While two of the vehicles are inspired by the festive atmosphere fans of the Kia Racing team experience during a day at the track with family and friends, the others pay homage to the raw performance and unique style that has permeated Kia’s five years of U.S. racing success. And at the center of it all is the championship-winning Optima race car, sporting a new look for the 2015 season.
First shown at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, when Kia Motors America announced that it would augment its championship-winning Forte Koup racing program with an entry into the Pirelli World Challenge, this championship winning Kia Racing Optima features an exciting new livery for the 2015 racing season.
Kia Racing clinched the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge Grand Touring Sport (GTS) Class Manufacturer Championship in only its third season of competition. Kia defeated rivals Ford, Chevrolet, Porsche, Aston Martin and Nissan to become the first Korean auto manufacturer to win the coveted championship. Kia Racing finished the stellar season with 13 podium finishes, including 5 race wins. Meanwhile, the turbocharged Optima race cars led more on-track miles than any other manufacturer in the class this season, a testimony to the speed and reliability of the Kia Optima.
The No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo on display at SEMA was driven by Mark Wilkins throughout the 2014 season and utilizes the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder GDI engine found in the Kia Optima SX and SXL. The engine block, head and crank shaft are stock Kia parts. Power output has been increased from the stock 274 HP to about 368 HP and is routed to the front wheels via a six-speed sequential transmission. The Kia Racing Optima weighs 2,950 pounds and has a top speed of 160 mph.
Wilkins finished the season third in the Driver Championship, scoring two wins and six podiums. Teammate Nic Jönsson, in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo (not shown at the SEMA Show), finished the season seventh in the Driver Championship with three wins and seven podiums.
Not only do Kia Racing’s performances reinforce the quality and dependability of Kia’s vehicles against the very best under the most extreme conditions, they support and increase awareness for two important charitable organizations. B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) provides free advanced driver’s education to teenage drivers with the goal of preventing injuries and saving lives. DonorsChoose.org is an online charity devoted to helping public school students in need of learning materials. Teachers post classroom project requests, and donors give to the projects that most inspire them.