After just two seasons and 20 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) races, Kia Motors America’s (KMA) motorsports program achieved championship status Saturday when the No. 10 Infinity Audio Forte Koup crossed the finish line in seventh place and earned Nic Jonsson and Kia Racing the Driver and Team titles, respectively, for the 2011 CTSCC in the Street Tuner (ST) class.
Kia and racing partner Kinetic Motorsports entered the season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with narrow three-point leads in both standings and co-drivers Jonsson and Michael Galati used the Forte Koup’s braking, handling and fuel-efficiency advantages on the 13-turn circuit to battle a field of more than 30 competitors during the 2.5-hour race, propelling Kia to its first-ever GRAND-AM road racing championships, according to the company.
“Kia Racing recorded a number of historic firsts in 2011 and consistently exceeded everyone’s expectations, and winning our first-ever GRAND-AM championship is an accomplishment the entire Kia Motors organization celebrates and takes great pride in,” said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA.
A caution-filled race kept the 71-car field bunched up tight and made for some great racing action for fans. With 30-minutes to go in the race, Jonsson executed a perfect inside pass of one of the MazdaSpeed3s and moved the No. 10 Forte Koup into fourth place. Just a few laps later, the first-place MINI lost all power and another full-course caution came out, with Jonsson now sitting in third place.
The EMCO Gears Classic returned to green-flag racing with less than 10 minutes remaining, and with the Driver and Team ST championships in sight, Jonsson cruised to a seventh-place finish as his Kinetic Motorsports teammates began celebrating Kia and Kinetic Motorsports’ first-ever GRAND-AM road racing titles on pit row.
Race fans can watch Kia’s championship-winning run on Sunday, September 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET on SPEED.
In the picture above: Drivers Nic Jonsson and Michael Galati captured Kia’s first-ever GRAND-AM championship Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.