For the first time in its history in the U.S. market, Kia is going racing in 2010. Kia announced today at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas that it has partnered with the Kinetic Group to build and compete with a pair of new Forte Koups in the 2010 Grand-Am Koni Challenge series. The Koups will be driven by Andy Lally and Nic Jönsson in the Street Tuner class of the Koni Challenge. Kia says it chose the Kinetic Group for its experience working in NASCAR, ALMS, IndyCar and, of course, the Koni Challenge.
The front-wheel-drive Kias are based on the production Forte Koup and will be running against the likes of the Mazda MX-5, Honda Civic Si and MINI Cooper. The Kias will make their debut January 8-10 at the Grand-Am test days at Daytona and then really hit the track in anger at the end of the month for the season opener as part of the Daytona 24 Hours weekend. Will the little two-door from South Korea have the racing chops to hang with other, more experienced production-based racers? Time will tell, but it's great to see Kia hop into motorsports with both feet and choose a series where its actual cars have the potential to shine.