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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.,
March 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Returning to the site of its Pirelli World Challenge debut one year ago, Kia Racing enjoyed a strong run on the Streets of
St. Petersburg for Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2013 season. Drivers
Nic Jonsson (No. 36) and
Mark Wilkins (No. 38) scored back-to-back top-ten finishes in their Kinetic Motorsport-prepared turbocharged Optimas, including a top-five finish for Jonsson in Round 2 on Sunday. Wilkins, with a pair of sixth-place finishes leaves St. Pete ranked fifth in the Drivers Championship, and Kia sits third in the Grand Touring Sports (GTS) class Manufacturers title chase.
"Coming to a temporary street circuit where we have only raced once before was a bit of a challenge, but to leave with four top-ten finishes, including one top five, is a great accomplishment for us and gives the team momentum right from the start of the season," said Jonsson. "The No. 36 turbocharged Optima was extremely quick all weekend, the Kinetic Motorsports crew did a great job of making adjustments between races, and our top-five finish is a testament to their hard work."
Both turbocharged Optimas performed very consistently throughout the weekend, maintaining a 100-percent reliability record that started with the vehicles' competition debut at this race a year ago. Jonsson and Wilkins finished Round 1 where they qualified: eighth and sixth, respectively. But Jonsson's run to eighth involved more than just holding station, as he was assessed a penalty just prior to the race, which forced him to start from the back of the grid and charge through the GTS field to score valuable championship points.
Round 2 on Sunday featured the threat of rain and the crowd-favorite standing start, as opposed to the rolling start used in Round 1. The grid for the weekend's second race was set by lap times from the previous day's race, which put Jonsson and Wilkins starting sixth and seventh, respectively. As the 40-car field barreled down the front straight, engines roaring, one of the Realtime Acura TSXs wedged between the Optimas, running three-wide with Jonsson and Wilkins into a heavily congested turn one.