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2015 Kia Optima Pirelli World Challenge GTS

2015 Kia Optima Pirelli World Challenge GTS

Kia may not have a rich racing heritage, but the past four years have proven the Koreans can develop competitive race cars. On U.S. soil, the Forte Koup marked the company’s debut in motorsport, specifically in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The Forte was replaced in 2012 by the third-gen Kia Optima, which became the manufacturer’s official entry in the Pirelli World Challenge. After securing its first win in its maiden season, the Optima went on to win the Pirelli World Challenge’s Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class in 2014, defeating rivals from Ford, Chevrolet, Porsche and Aston Martin. As we venture toward the 2015 season, the Koreans have introduced their updated racer at the 2014 SEMA Show.

As you’d expect from a Pirelli World Challenge contender, not much has changed with the Optima GTS. Most internals carry over unmodified, as does the turbocharged, 2.0-liter engine that utilizes many stock Kia parts. There is one thing that’s different from last season’s car though, but you’ll have to read on to find out more about that.

Click past the jump to read more about the Kia Optima Pirelli World Challenge GTS.

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2012 Kia Optima SX World Challenge GTS Race Car

2012 Kia Optima SX World Challenge GTS Race Car

The debuts are coming fast and furious at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show so we’re going to be on our toes to stay on top of the action as more cars are unveiled.

One that got our attention was the Kia Optima SX World Challenge GTS Race Car. Given the fact that Kia is a relative neophyte in the world of auto racing, we’ve been pleasantly surprised in the company’s aggressive stance in building race cars. Last month at SEMA, they even introduced their new Rio B-Spec Racer and an Optima USTCC Pace Car. Now, it’s the Optima’s turn to be tuned to racing specifications, this time for the Pirelli World Challenge Championships.

One possible explanation behind Kia’s sudden enthusiasm in auto racing was born out of the success they’ve had in the sport, despite only being active in competitive racing for the past two years.

"As a brand with no previous racing experience in America, for Kia to win two motorsports championships in just its second year is an incredible accomplishment, and expanding our motorsports footprint with the turbocharged Optima entering World Challenge will continue to build passion and enthusiasm for the brand with an entirely new fan base at different race tracks across the country," said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA.

The cars were built as a collaborative project between Kia Motors America and Kinetic Motorsports where they will be competing in a racing series that features race-prepped versions of production vehicles from many of the world’s most popular manufacturers. The pair of Optimas that were unveiled at the LA Auto Show have been tuned with aerodynamic styling and outstanding driving dynamics that should make them well suited to handle the high-octane, steel-scraping world of World Challenge racing.

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2011 Kia Rio B-Spec Race Car

2011 Kia Rio B-Spec Race Car

The run up to one of our favorite auto shows has begun and we’re already getting a few looks at some of the cars that are expected to be in attendance.

One of the early reveals is the Kia Rio B-Spec Race Car, the Korean automaker’s very first B-Spec offering. The car was developed by Kinetic Motorsports and will be unveiled at SEMA in a month’s time.

For their part, Kia may not have the same cache as the likes of Toyota and Honda in B-Spec racing, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they’re not looking at breaking into the scene like gangbusters.

The car itself already comes packed with plenty of technical and mechanical modifications, complete with a fully decked red-and-white racing livery, a new suspension set-up comprising of a MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle, a roll cage, and plenty of additional racing safety equipment.

As for the powertrain, the car is expected to carry the same engine set-up as its stock counterpart. What that means is that the Rio B-Spec Race Car will carry a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine that produces 138 HP and 123 lb-ft of torque. Kinetic Motorsports will also leave open the option of tweaking the output to squeeze in as much extra horsepower as it could within the rules.

"With the rapid development of the Kia Racing program and the launch of the 2012 Rio five-door, we have a unique opportunity to introduce Kia to a new and passionate racing community," said Michael Sprague Kia Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

UPDATE 11/02/11: This review has been updated with official photos from Kia

UPDATE 11/09/11: We have added new images of the Kia Rio B-Spec Race Car from its debut at the SEMA Show.

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Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5

Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5

A week after a forgettable fourth episode, Top Gear bounces back with a pretty entertaining penultimate episode that featured a review on the new Jensen Interceptor, a track day for Jeremy Clarkson with the Lotus Exos Type 125 race car, Bob Geldof as the guest celebrity, and a military house destruction challenge.

Comparing it to the previous show, the content for this week was a lot better, but in a weird twist, the show only had 59 minutes on it - the regular slot usually lasts for 62 to 63 minutes - because, apparently, BBC wanted to show the MotoGP race exactly on time.

That became a running gag during the whole episode as Hammond and May kept speeding up Clarkson in order to fill out the entire episode in the 59 minutes they were given.

In the end, the military destruction challenge proved to be the most entertaining segment of the episode - we’d argue that it’s the best one all year, too - filled with child-like shenanigans from the three hosts that make us love the work they’re doing.

Some people might slam them for wasting their precious time on something so inane, but if you were walking in their shoes, you’d be having a ball of time using military vehicles in trying to put down a cement house.

Details on Top Gear Season 17: Episode 5 after the jump

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2008 Kia pro ceed Nurburgring 24-hour race version

2008 Kia pro ceed Nurburgring 24-hour race version

Kia’s stylish and sporty pro_cee’d is no stranger to Germany’s Nürburgring having been extensively tested there during development but this weekend is back to prove itself in the Nürburgring 24-hour race.

The barely modified three door pro_cee’d has been entered into Europe’s toughest and most legendary long-distance race by a team from Continental Italia who are hoping to triumph over the competition with as few tire changes as possible. In fitting ContiSportContact 3 standard tires to the pro_cee’d rather than race tires, the team expect to have an advantage over those that have to swap tires with each change in weather conditions.

The pro_cee’d is powered by Kia’s strong, flexible 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 138bhp at 4000rpm and 305Nm of torque all the way from 1800 to 2500rpm, giving instant, strong response throughout the rev band and outstanding performance.

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