The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Kia Racing returns to Detroit's Belle Isle after making history in 2012

kia (select to view enlarged photo)

Driver of the No. 38 Optima turbo, Mark Wilkins, Currently Third in Championship Standings after Podium Finish at Circuit of the Americas


Nic Jönsson, No. 36, currently ninth in Championship standings, looks to bounce back after promising run in Austin was cut short by late-race incident Kia Racing returns to Detroit’s Belle Isle after making history in 2012, becoming the first Korean manufacturer to race on the historic island road course

Irvine, Calif., May 30, 2013 – Kia Racing is riding a wave of momentum into the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, May 31-June 2, having scored the team’s first podium finish of the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season in Austin, Texas, two weeks ago. Kia Motors America’s (KMA) racing partner Kinetic Motorsports had to execute a quick turnaround to make preparations for the Motown event, including repairing damage to the No. 36 Optima turbo of Nic Jönsson, who narrowly missed a top-three finish in Austin due to a late-race incident. Meanwhile, teammate Mark Wilkins, pilot of the No. 38 Kia Racing Optima, currently holds third in the Grand Touring Sport (GTS) Driver Championship and has set his sights on the title-chase leaders during Rounds Six and Seven at a newly reconfigured 2.3-mile Belle Isle circuit.

“We learned a lot about this bumpy street circuit after running here last year for the first time, and this year’s new track layout opens up a bit, allowing the Optima more room to stretch its legs,” said Wilkins who, after fighting handling issues, finished 11th and 15th here in 2012. “The guys at Kinetic always do a great job of prepping the Optima, and it’s my job to go out there and perform with the goal of winning a championship for Kia at the end of the season. I’m looking forward to getting back on track and hopefully closing the gap on the top two in the GTS standings."

With just two weeks between the May 18-19 races at Austin, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and the doubleheader at Belle Isle, the team had barely enough time to wring the celebratory champagne from second-place finisher Wilkins’ driving suit. The turnaround task was made more challenging by the need to repair damage Jönsson’s No. 36 Optima suffered in the closing laps at COTA.

“The crew did an amazing job this past week working to get the cars ready for Detroit, and I’m hoping to reward their hard work with a result that will put our COTA disappointment behind us. The Belle Isle track has changed a bit from what we ran last year and the changes should benefit the Optima a little more,” said Jönsson, who hasn’t raced on Belle Isle since a 1999 stint behind the wheel of Super Touring car. “I’m looking forward to getting out there to see just how much the track has changed.”

While many may not associate the Kia brand with Motown, nearly 100 Kia Motors America (KMA) guests from the company’s nearby research and development center outside Ann Arbor, Mich., will be on hand to watch the action unfold in Detroit. Jönsson continued, “It’s always gratifying to race in front of your fans – especially engineers who are usually gearheads like us – so we’re going to do our best to put on a good show for them.” In addition, the race team will visit Detroit-area dealer Kia of Canton on Friday, May 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET as part of a special race-week sales promotion for fans and Kia customers.