After recently notching its second win this season in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire sports car Challenge (CTSCC), Kia Racing will bring its Kia Forte Coupes to the storied Laguna Seca Raceway in Salinas, Calif., to compete in the eighth stop on the CTSCC circuit. Kia Racing's visit to Southern California is shaping up to be a special one, too, as it will be both a homecoming of sorts—Kia's U.S. corporate headquarters is in nearby Irvine—and an opportunity for both the brand and its top pilot to extend their first-place leads in the series' team and driver standings. It's an impressive run for a company that didn't get formally involved in the U.S. motorsports scene until last year.
Kia's inaugural season in the 2010 CTSCC was considered a "learning experience" for all involved, and graduation day came in April of this year. That's when drivers Nic Jönsson and Michael Galati drove the No. 10 Kinetic Motorsports/Infinity Audio Forte Koup racer to victory at the Barber 200, held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. And notably, the No. 12 Forte Koup, driven by Trevor Hopwood and Adam Burrows, achieved its first top 10 finish in the same race.
Jönsson and Galati then took the checkered flag again at the Road America 200 late in June, pushing Kia and Jönsson to the top of the ST Class leader boards. In addition, KIA also currently ranks in third place in the engine manufacturer rankings.
"It's unheard of for a second-year racing program to stand on top of the podium, but to do it twice in a single year is even more remarkable and underscores the tremendous effort both Kia Motors and Kinetic Motorsports have put into the program," said Jönsson. "The team went to extraordinary lengths to overcome the challenges posed by the Road America course and that makes this win even sweeter."
Plenty of challenges will await Kia Racing during this next race as well. The Laguna Seca Raceway is one of the country's premier road-racing courses, covering 2.238 miles and featuring 11 turns and a 300-foot change in elevations. Countless races have been held there since the track was first built in 1957, with some of America's top motorsports events—including Indy car races, the American Le Mans Series, the U.S. motorcycle Grand Prix and the Monterey Historic Automobile Races—making their stops at Laguna Seca over the years.
The weekend's 2.5-hour CTSSC race—part of the "Continental Tire Sports Car Festival Powered by Mazda"—is scheduled to begin at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 9, and will be rebroadcast on the SPEED channel at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on July 17.