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Contential Tire Series - Kinetic Motorsports And Kia Continue Quest At The Glen

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Burford, June 1, 2011: After the Kinetic Motorsports Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koup earned another Top 5 finish last weekend at Lime Rock Park, the team is looking for yet another strong finish at Watkins Glen International this weekend. Historic Watkins Glen is a track that they say has always been good for the cars, even though it shouldn’t be. It is also a track that the drivers love and have achieved success in the past. Their quest for more success continues at the Continental Tire 150 on Friday, June 3.

The team experienced both success and defeat at the recent Lime Rock Park Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race on Saturday, May 28. The #10 Kinetic car finished fifth in the Street Tuner (ST) class race, but the #12 sister car was not so fortunate. After suffering braking and steering issues, the car had to eventually retire and could not complete the race, finishing thirty-first. The Kinetic Motorsports team had minimal time to make comprehensive repairs to the car and be fully race-ready for this Thursday morning’s official practice. Team Manager Ed Hall offers a special thanks to Don Knoblock and East Syracuse Kia for opening up their facility for the Kinetic Motorsports team to prep the cars.

“We only had a few days to prep the cars and put everything back together for Watkins Glen,” said Russell Smith, team owner of Kinetic Motorsports. “We’ve always done reasonably well at the Glen, on a track that, on paper, we shouldn’t necessarily do too well. I think if we stick to our plan and keep our noses clean, and run an intelligent race, we stand a chance of finishing inside the Top 10 again.”

“With the 2011 season reaching the halfway point at Lime Rock Park last weekend it’s a great opportunity to look back at all that Kia Racing and our partner Kinetic Motorsports have accomplished in our second year, most notably our first-ever win at Barber Motorsports Park and our position in the top three in all of the ST class standings,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing and communications, Kia Motors America. “We entered this year with increased expectations, and the Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koups have certainly delivered, and coming off another top five finish at Lime Rock we’re looking forward to another strong outing when the team returns to the track on Friday at Watkins Glen.”

“I think Watkins Glen is one of those tracks where the Mazdas, Minis, and BMWs are going to be very strong because they are turbo and super charged, so they are always very strong at that track,” said Nic Jönsson, who moved back into second place in driver’s points after Lime Rock. “They also need a car that handles well and to take care of the tires. We were surprisingly competitive at VIR, even with the long straightaways, so we may have a chance. We need to have a clean race and make sure we take care of our tires and our gearbox and hopefully we can have some luck. It’s a traditional race track, and I think our drivers like it so hopefully we can have a strong showing and gain a few more points in the driver’s and manufacturer’s championships.”

“Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks, and I hope we can go there and finish in the top five,” said Michael Galati, co-driver of the #10 car. “There are long straightaways, but looking at how we performed at Lime Rock, I think we will do well. The car was very good there, and my hats off to the Kinetic crew guys. I think we will continue to improve the car, and hopefully we can compete for the win at Watkins Glen.”

Although the #10 had a strong finish at Lime Rock Park, the #12 Kinetic car suffered a brake issue. Ultimately, the team decided that it was better to save the car for the Glen and not try to finish the race.

“I’m excited about the Watkins Glen weekend and getting right back into the car after a less than ideal weekend at Lime Rock,” said Burrows, who also has Rolex Sports Car Series experience at the track in the traditional 6 Hour event. “It might be tough with long straightaways for us, but on the back side of the course we should be pretty strong. We just need to put our heads down and get it right at the Glen. I’ve got a lot of laps there and I’m looking forward to getting even more in this weekend.”

“We’ve had the chance to race at the Glen in a lot of cars, sometimes racing against each other and sometimes sharing a car,” said Hopwood. “Of course the highlight so far has been that first win, but hopefully we can have a new one this weekend. We had our setback at Lime Rock, but at least Nic and Michael were able to come home with some good points for Kia so we can keep building on that this weekend.”

The Continental Tire 150 will take place at Watkins Glen International on Friday, June 3 at 6:00pm EDT, and will be broadcast tape delay on Sunday, June 12 at 5:00pm EDT on SPEED.

About the Drivers

Nic Jönsson 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. Jönsson 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. Jönsson captured his first GRAND-AM victory in 2005 at the Six Hours at The Glen and has two additional victories in 2009 at New Jersey Motorsports Park and Watkins Glen. Jönsson co-drove the #10 Kinetic Kia, which finished on podium at the GRAND-AM 200 in Daytona in January and won at Barber Motorsports Park in April. Outside of sports car racing, Jönsson has trained the Swedish royal family and secret-service agents in high-performance and self-defense driving. A native of Sweden, Jönsson is the co-founder and owner of Kinetic Speed Shop.

Michael Galati was raised in Florence, Italy, and began karting at a very young age there. He moved to America in 1980 and began competing in SCCA events and IMSA endurance races in 1987. Michael has won over 100 races and 5 National titles and championships, highlighted by the SCCA Presidential Cup Award in 1994, endorsed by President Clinton. Soon after, he became a driver for Realtime Racing in 1996 where he clinched his first Speed World Challenge Driver’s Championship, as well as Rookie of the Year honors. In 1998, he secured his second Drivers World Championship on the strength of 5 podium finishes, and 5 track records. Michael formed his own team, Galati Racing in 1999, and piloted an Acura Type R to a record first 4 wins to start the season. In 2007, Michael competed in both the GT and Touring Car classes in the Speed World Challenge series, where he is a four-time champion. Michael captured Kia Motor America’s first victory with co-driver Jönsson at Barber Motorsports Park in April 2011. He enjoys golfing and playing soccer, and he and his wife of 30 years, Antonietta, have one daughter, Michaela.

A past Continental Tire Challenge ST champion, Adam Burrows had years of Spec Racer competition under his belt before deciding to move up to the highly competitive GRAND-AM Continental Tire (previously 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 the Continental Tire Challenge. The Maine 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.