Los Angeles 2011: Kia Gets Ready to Race with World Challenge Optima SXs

It was only two seasons ago that Kia threw its hat into the motorsports ring with its Forte Koup tuned by Kinetic Motorsports. Now, after its first-ever championship in the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the Korean brand is looking to up the ante with not one, but two Optima SX sedans built and developed by Kinetic Racing for the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge.

Based off of the 2012 Optima SX, Kia’s two new racecars will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder. Exact power figures are still forthcoming, but in production spec, that  engineis good for 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Kinetic will develop and build the specialty Optimas to compete in the Grand Touring Sport class of the World Challenge, an SCCA Pro Racing-sanctioned race with world-class drivers and race-prepped versions of production cars. Race locations for the 2012 season include Road Atlanta, the street circuit in Long Beach, California, and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

Kia’s foray will mark the first time any Korean vehicles have been entered in the World Challenge series. The automaker will also continue its racing efforts with the Forte Koup, and a variant of the 2012 Rio5 hatchback for the new B-Spec showroom stock class. And, to top things all off, a tricked-out Optima Hybrid will serve as the U.S. Touring Car Championship official safety car starting March of next year.

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