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January 24, 2012

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Kia Racing Announces New Driver Pairings for the 2012 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Season

2011 Street Tuner Driver Champion Nic Jonsson Reunites With NASCAR's 2011 Sunoco Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year - Andy Lally - in the No. 10 Infinity Audio Kia Forte Koup

- Lally played a critical role in Kia's 2010 "development year" and helped Kia earn its first-ever GRAND-AM podium finish at Daytona International Speedway in January 2011

- Third year program adds decorated brothers Mark and Mathew Pombo to pilot the No. 12 Forte Koup and strengthen Kia's chase for its first-ever manufacturers championship

IRVINE, Calif., - Kia Motors America and racing partner Kinetic Motorsports will begin defense of the 2011 Street Tuner (ST) Team and Driver titles with new driver pairings for both the No. 10 and No. 12 Infinity Audio Forte Koups when the green flag drops on the 2012 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Championship (CTSCC) season at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, January 27. Fresh off his 2011 Sonoco Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year performance, familiar face Andy Lally returns to the Kia Racing program, reuniting with ST Driver champion Nic Jonsson and the No. 10 car. Lally and Jonsson were last seen capturing Kia's first-ever GRAND-AM podium at Daytona in January 2011 before Lally left to pursue his dream of competing in NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"I'm thrilled to be included with Kinetic Motorsports and Kia Racing again for the 2012 season and am excited to be teamed with Nic for a run at the championship," said Lally. "The Kia Forte Koups are some of the best prepared race cars I have ever driven, and I am looking forward to getting the season started."

"Having Andy back as my teammate again full time is very exciting for the whole Kia Racing and Kinetic Motorsports team," said Jonsson. "We are looking forward to kicking off 2012 and defending the Driver and Team championships."

 

In addition to pursuing back-to-back championships, Kia and Kinetic will aggressively compete for the manufacturers' title and two new faces will assist in that endeavor – brothers Mark and Mathew Pombo – who join the team after campaigning a MazdaSpeed3 for i-Moto Racing in the 2011 CTSCC. The Pombo family has extensive racing history, and both Mark and Mathew got started at an early age beginning with go-carts and eventually moving their way up with major success in SCCA regional and national events and GRAND-AM's CTSCC. After battling for position on the track with the Kia Forte Koups last year, the Pombo brothers now find themselves behind the wheel of the No. 12 car and looking forward to making a statement in 2012.

"I'm very appreciative of the opportunity Kia and Kinetic have given me in the Infinity Audio Forte Koup," said Mark Pombo. "To get a chance to team up with the ST Driver and Team championship winning program from 2011 and drive alongside champions like Nic and Andy is something Mathew and I are looking forward to and are not taking lightly."

Kinetic Motorsports owner Russell Smith commented on the new driver lineup for 2012, saying: "We are delighted and honored to be headed into our third season of racing with Kia Motors; we exceeded our own expectations for 2011 and were happy with the outcome. We're looking forward to 2012 with Nic and Andy back together in the No. 10 Koup, and Mark and Matt Pombo represent a great opportunity for us to field the No. 12 Koup with top level drivers. Both drivers managed to clinch the manufacturers' title last year for Mazda, and we are fortunate to retain their services in 2012."

 

The Forte Koups will debut a new look at the Daytona season opener with both the No. 10 and No. 12 Forte Koups sporting a new exterior paint scheme in Kia's red and white corporate colors. The new design was conceived by Kia's U.S. design center in Irvine, Calif. and will be consistent across Kia's expanded motorsports activities in 2012, including two turbocharged Optimas racing in the Pirelli World Challenge and the all-new Rio 5-door competing in B-Spec events.

The 2012 CTSCC season kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Jan. 27 with the 2.5-hour race starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

(Jan. 23, 2012)


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