IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Building upon an ultra-successful 2014 privateer program, Kia Motors America (KMA) and its racing partner, Kinetic Motorsports, today announced an expanded effort with a trio of Touring Car A (TC-A) class Kia Forte Koups expected to contest the entire 2015 Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) season. Kinetic's 2014 campaign, which consisted of a full-season entry for rookie Jason Wolfe and a second entry for select races, won the PWC TC-A Manufacturer Championship for Kia, the Driver Championship and Rookie of the Year award for Wolfe, and the Team of the Year award for the Buford, Georgia-based outfit. Defending champion Wolfe will be joined by 20-year-old Kris Wright and 17-year-old Samantha Tan, who will pilot the No. 34 and 38 Kia Forte Koups, respectively, when the 2015 TC-A season begins at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, March 6-8.
"The turbocharged Forte Koup is one of Kia's sportiest offerings and for it to compete and win in the Pirelli World Challenge TC-A class is testament to the vehicle as well as the skill and dedication of Kinetic Motorsports and the young drivers they are developing," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing, KMA. "Racing is a proving ground where vehicles' reliability and performance are put to the test, and we are very proud of how well the Forte Koup has shown in these demanding conditions. It's a real pleasure to know that drivers are opting to pilot Kia vehicles at the race track over other well-known brands, and we're delighted with the success Kinetic has had with the new Forte Koup platform."
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native Wright will make his PWC debut behind the wheel of the No. 34 Wright Automotive Kia Forte Koup. He joins the Kinetic Motorsport team having competed in local SCCA racing events in a Formula Ford 2000 and the Skip Barber summer series program last year. Wright is currently a student at Robert Morris University studying business.
PWC rookie Samantha Tan, of Gormley, Ontario, Canada, will drive the No. 38 Gum Products International (GPI) Kia Forte Koup during the full 2015 season. Tan has been racing since 2013 when she piloted a Honda Civic to two podiums in National Auto Sport Association (NASA) competition. In 2014 Tan competed in the Canadian Touring Car Championship (CTCC) in a Mini Cooper, finishing fifth out of 22 drivers in class and winning the Rookie of the Year award.
"We're very excited to see the program grow from one full-time Forte Koup entry in its first year to three full-time Forte Koups in the second season. It proves that people are paying attention to our success and young drivers want to be a part of a proven team where they can learn from world-class drivers like Mark Wilkins and Nic Jönsson," said Russell Smith, Kinetic Motorsports team owner and former driver. "We look forward to a great year with the expanded program and showcasing what the Kinetic team and Kia Racing can do to help young drivers achieve their professional racing goals."
The PWC season kicks off at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 6-8. In addition to the factory-backed, Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class Kia Racing Optimas, all three privateer Forte Koups will be in action as the weekend hosts the first three rounds of the TC-A class season. Round 1 takes place Saturday, March 7, at 10:30 a.m. CT. Round 2 is Saturday at 4:15 p.m. CT. Round 3 is Sunday, March 8 at 3:10 p.m. CT. Broadcast details are still to be announced. Live streaming is available online at www.world-challengetv.com, and race fans can keep up-to-date with the team via the Kia Racing Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kiaracing and by following along on Twitter: @KiaRacing.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea, and in 2014 was the #1 ranked mainstream brand according to Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index. KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K900 flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle2, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States. Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 plant and supplier jobs.
Information about KMA and its full vehicle line-up is available at 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 www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX, SX & Limited and certain LX Trims only) are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts
 2015 K900 V8 available in select trims and in select markets with limited availability.
 2015 Soul EV in select markets with limited availability.
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SOURCE Kia Motors America