Team eager to meet American muscle head-on in Motown following two top-ten finishes in Monterey
Michael Galati in the No. 36 Infinity Audio Optima to focus on gaining points in quest for the driver's championship
Mark Wilkins looks to move up the grid in his second outing for Kia Racing in the No. 38 Infinity Audio Optima
[SEOUL, Korea & IRVINE, Calif.=Whowired] May 31, 2012 -- Kia Racing heads for Detroit June 1-3 for round six of its debut season in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships (PWC), pitting two turbocharged Optimas against some serious hometown muscle. With his top-ten finish in Monterey (Calif.), Michael Galati, driver of the No. 36 Infinity Audio Optima, is currently fifth in the Grand Touring Sport (GTS) points battle while Kia Racing sits fourth in the manufacturers championship. Mark Wilkins, piloting the No.38 Infinity Audio Optima, has his eye on the first two rows of the starting grid at the Belle Isle (Mich.) street circuit located along the shores of the Detroit River.
The Kia Racing Optimas will need every ounce of the 22-pound diet they have undergone since Monterey – "Reward Weight" earned for podium finishes earlier in the season, which the team is now able to shed after finishing sixth and eighth in the last race – to compete with the Mustangs and Camaros on the tight temporary street circuit at Belle Isle. Located almost in the shadow of General Motors' global headquarters, and only minutes from Ford's world headquarters, the race is sure to draw a large (and potentially partisan) crowd. With that in mind, Kia Racing is approaching the weekend with cautious optimism.
"There is no doubt the fans will be behind their hometown heroes," said Galati, who lives in nearby Cleveland. "But we've surprised more than a few people in our debut season, and I feel the Optimas are up to the challenge this weekend." Galati will be working hard to score points in his bid for the 2012 driver's championship and attempting to fend off the challenge from Acura driver Nick Esayian, who is only eight points behind in the standing.
Mark Wilkins, following his Kia Racing debut in Monterey where he was quickly up to speed and turned in a solid performance, is anticipating a far different driving experience at Belle Isle. "Laguna Seca is about blind crests and wild elevation changes while Belle Isle is a street course and is by-nature quite flat," said Wilkins. "The Optimas should do quite well in this environment, but passing is always tough because the course is so tight."
Situated on a 982-acre island perched in the middle of the Detroit River, Belle Isle's street circuit was originally created for Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) competition and has also hosted IndyCar and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) off and on since 1992. Its straights nestle against the shoreline and help to create one of the faster tracks in the PWC series.
Round six of the PWC season at Belle Isle takes place June 3 at 3 p.m. ET. Check out live race status, photos and updates at www.facebook.com/kiaracing, and watch live streaming race coverage at world-challengetv.com. Race fans can also tune in for television coverage on the NBC Sports Network Saturday, July 7 at 5 p.m. ET. (Time and date subject to change. Check local listings).
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 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S. 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.
SOURCE Kia Motors America
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