Most of us know the Kia Optima as a stylish, value-packed midsize sedan. But this weekend, Kia proved its mettle as a serious motorsports competitor by taking the victory in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class in rounds 8 and 9 at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, about 46 miles east of Toronto. Drivers Michael Galati, driving the #36 Optima, took first place in round 8, with his teammate Mark Wilkins taking first in Sunday's round 9 race.
Racing against such cars as Ford Mustang Boss 302s and Porsche Caymans, the Kia Optima's turbocharged power proved a formidable force for challengers to overcome. In both rounds eight and nine, Galati and Wilkins attempted to fend off Jack Baldwin in his #68 Porsche Cayman. Galati and Wilkins took first and second in Saturday's round 8 race, with Baldwin coming in third.
Galati took fifth in Sunday's race, with Wilkins taking the victory in round 9. Wilkins and Galati were separated by Baldwin, who took second place, Alec Udell of Woodlands, Texas in his #16 Ford Mustang Boss 302 taking third, and Andy Lee taking fourth in his #20 Chevrolet Camaro.
This weekend's victories represent the first for Kia in the GTS series. Wilkins also set a series lap record at CTMP with a time of 1:27.214, with an average speed of 101.502 mph. The strong second-place round 8 victory and win on Sunday was especially sweet for Mark Wilkins, a native of nearby Aurora, Ontario.
Both the Series 8 and 9 races from CTMP will air on NBC Sports on July 7 at 5 p.m.
Source: Pirelli World Challenge