Kia Optima SX Turbo enters the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge Championships

Motorsport

The emerging South Korean Manufacturer broadens their motorsport involvement.

South Korean automakers have never had a noticeable presence in the North American motorsport scene. However things are now changing fast as Kia announced its most advanced motorsport initiative, their second announcement in two weeks. Following the SEMA launch of the Kia Rio B-Spec, the company and its American partner, Kinetic Motorsports, have announced at the LA Auto Show that the Optima SX will take part in the2012 Pirelli World Challenge Championships.

This year a Kia Forte won the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the first success for the Korean manufacturer. Next year, in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships, Kia is going to take on nameplates such as Mustang and Camaro at world-class race tracks across North America, including Road Atlanta, the street circuit in Long Beach, California, and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The Kia Optima SX racing version will be based on the production version of the four-cylinder 2.0-liter 274 horsepower engine.

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"With its aerodynamic styling and outstanding driving dynamics, the Optima SX should be well suited to the ultracompetitive environment of World Challenge racing," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing & communications. Sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, World Challenge features world-class drivers and race-prepped versions of production vehicles from many of the world's most popular manufacturers. The Kia Optima will be the first Korean vehicle to compete in the series - which includes a suspenseful standing start rather than the more common rolling start.

Kinetic Motorsports will build, develop and campaign the two Optima World Challenge cars while continuing Kia's Forte Koup efforts in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Drivers for both programs are yet to be announced. Kia will also display one of its cars, the Optima Hybrid, at the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) events, as it will serve as the pace car for this championship.

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