LONG BEACH, Calif., April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Just up the road from its U.S.-corporate headquarters in Irvine, Calif., Kia Racing gave its fans reason to cheer loudly with a top-five finish in Round 3 of the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) at Long Beach presented by Kia. Wilkins, whose turbocharged Kia Optima got faster with each passing lap, was stalking the fourth-placed Aston Martin late in the contest, but his bid for a podium finish was thwarted when the 50-minute sprint race ended under caution. The top-five finish marks the second in a row for Kia Racing and moves both drivers into the top five in driver championship points heading into Round 4 at Circuit of the Americas next month. By virtue of the strong performance, Kia held station in third in the manufacturer championship.
"The Kinetic crew made a lot of progress on the car, and at the end of the race we were definitely faster than the Aston Martin in front of us. We just ran out of time to make a move," said Wilkins. "It's great to come out here to Long Beach and race in front of all of the Kia team members and to meet so many great people who support the racing program."
Wilkins' teammate, Nic Jonsson, charged through the field in his No. 36 turbocharged Optima to finish in seventh place, an impressive feat considering he started at the back of the pack in 24th place after replacing an engine following a turbo issue in the morning qualifying session. Jonsson's strong finish allowed him to advance from seventh to fifth in the driver championship standings."We definitely had some hurdles to overcome this weekend, but I'm proud of the crew for doing an amazing job getting the No. 36 Optima into race condition after our troubles in qualifying Sunday morning," said Jonsson. "To come away from a brutal and demanding track like Long Beach with two top-ten finishes and come pretty close to putting Kia Racing back on the podium for their home race is just fantastic, and now we can turn our focus to Circuit of the Americas next month." On Friday, coinciding with the Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach presented by Kia, was the introduction of the No. 36 turbocharged Optima racing machine into Cie Games' Car Town, a leading social game on the Facebook platform, which allows its nearly 50 million lifetime players to collect and customize virtual cars in garages of their own design and participate in challenges. The Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach presented by Kia is scheduled to air on television Sunday, May 5 at 11:00 a.m. PT on the NBC Sports Network. Race fans can also catch the latest news and updates from the track at www.facebook.com/kiaracing or Twitter at @KiaRacing. Kia: One of the World's Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time. With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry. Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand's "Top 100 Best Global Brands," and is poised to continue its momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013. Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company's first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs. The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry's largest segments has fueled Kia's rapid growth and is complemented by Kia's comprehensive lineup which includes the Soul urban passenger vehicle, Sportage compact CUV, Optima Hybrid, the Forte sedan, 5-door and Koup compacts, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and the Sedona minivan. About Kia Motors America Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2012, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and gained U.S. market share for the 18th consecutive year. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies. Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com. To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at http://www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert. * The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX Trims and certain LX Trims only) and GDI Turbo are built in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts. SOURCE Kia Motors America