It wasn’t just a case of beginner’s luck, but the skill of Kia Motorsports’ drivers that helped the young team celebrate its first-ever Grand-Am Road Racing class championship.
Nic Jonsson steered the No. 10 Infinity Kia Forte Koup to victory when it crossed the finish line in seventh place for the Street Tuner class, good enough to earn Kia the driver and team championships in the season’s final race at Mid-Ohio on Saturday. Co-driver Michael Galati helped pave the way, holding second place at the 30-minute mark before switching out with Jonsson for the final two hours of the race.
But it was no easy feat, as Jonsson battled it out in the 71-car field against two Minis and two Mazda3s that held court the top five positions for most of the race. He slotted into fourth place after executing an inside pass on one of the Mazda3s with 30 minutes left to go, and then up to third when the first-place Mini lost all power and a full-course caution was issued. Once the green flag waved again, Jonsson managed to cross the finish line in seventh place.
Kia and racing partner Kinetic Motorsports have been in the motorsports program for just two years, which likely makes the pair’s class wins even sweeter.
"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," Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America's vice president of marketing & communications, said in a prepared statement.
The winning run will be televised September 25 on the Speed Channel.