Kia Racing Scores Back-to-back Podium Finishes During Rounds Nine And Ten Of The Pirelli World Challenge At Road America
Tire management proves key as teammates Ben Clucas (No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo) and Mark Wilkins (No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo) earn valuable championship points
· Mark Wilkins' dramatic last-lap pass in round nine on Saturday secured his third-place finish – his second podium of the year
· Ben Clucas' opportunistic overtake in round ten put him in second place and earned him his third podium of the 2015 season
IRVINE, Calif., June 30, 2015 – Reigning Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Grand Touring Sport (GTS) class Manufacturer Champion, Kia Motors continued its title defense at Road America, earning hard-fought back-to-back podium finishes in rounds nine and ten in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Mark Wilkins, pilot of the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Optima turbo, scored third and fourth place finishes during the doubleheader weekend, while teammate Ben Clucas, in the No. 36 DonorsChoose.org Optima turbo, scored a second-place finish in round ten. Both drivers struck the right balance between outright speed and tire conservation as their Optimas – the only front-wheel-drive cars in the field – kept pace with an onslaught of rear-wheel-drive sports cars and V8-powered muscle."We had some great battles with Andrew Aquilante in the Mustang, and I was pushing with all I had but also being very careful and deliberate to save some front tire for the end," said Wilkins after scoring his second podium of the season on Saturday. "We diced back and forth a few times throughout the final laps, and in the process I was able to determine where I had the advantage. Ultimately, I was able to make it happen on the last lap going into turn three."
While Wilkins relied on experience behind the wheel of the Kia Racing Optima and extensive knowledge of the four-mile-long circuit known as America's National Park of Speed to craft one of the most disciplined drives of his career, teammate Clucas took maximum advantage of an opportunity early on Sunday to move into the runner-up position and then wisely went into conservation mode for the remainder of the 50-minute contest.
"I was running fourth early on and was prepared to settle into a groove to extend tire life when the two Mustangs ahead of me tangled, which gave me a chance to dive to the inside and use momentum to overtake them on the front straight," said Clucas, who scored his third podium of the season in Sunday's round ten of the 18-race series. "It's a good points day for Kia in the Manufacturer Championship, and for Mark and me in the driver standings, and a great way to start the second half of the season."
The Road America results bring Kia Racing's total to five podium finishes on the year as the 2015 season hits the halfway point. Rounds 11-12 take place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, July 31 – August 2. Kia currently sits third in the GTS Manufacturer Championship behind Ford and Aston Martin, but ahead of Porsche, Chevrolet and Nissan. Televised coverage of the GTS doubleheader weekend will air on the CBS Sports Network Wednesday, July 8, at 9 p.m. ET. Race fans can keep up-to-date with the Kia Racing team via the Kia Motors America Facebook and Instagram pages, and on Twitter @Kia.