South Korean car maker Kia is to make its first racing inroads into the US as Kia Motorsports America (KMA) its first program at the SEMA show.

KMA, in conjunction with the Kinetic Group, is to enter a pair of Kia's Forte Koup model in Street Tuner (ST) class of the Grand-Am KONI Sportscar Challenge Series next year. The series, which acts as support for the Grand-Am Rolex series showcases cars closely modelled on production models, with the ST class including BMWs, Chevrolets and Audis.

“The Forte Koup is the latest chapter in the dramatic Kia brand transformation story, and the decision to enter into the motorsports arena was an easy one to make,” explained Michael Sprague, KMA's Vice President of Marketing. “The Forte Koup's performance-inspired styling and outstanding driving dynamics make it a natural fit for road racing, and competing in GRAND-AM's KONI Challenge Series enables us to reach an entirely new and passionate base of automotive enthusiasts.”

“We researched every form of auto racing in the U.S. to find a fan base that was aligned with our target demographics, and found GRAND-AM to be the perfect fit.”

The series also sees, like its Rolex named big brother, a pair of drivers share a car, with the lead car expected be shared between Nic Jonsson and Andy Lally with Adam Burrows (a previous ST class champion) Trevor Hopwood sharing the second of the Infinity Audio backed cars.

Swede Jonsson and Lally bring with them considerable experience and expertise. Jonsson, who is also co-founder and owner of the Kinetic Group, is best know for his exploits in the colours of Krohn Racing, for whom he has raced in the Rolex Series and (under the stewardship of Risi Competizione) American Le Mans Series. He has also raced three times for the team at the Le Mans 24 hours, with a best finish of second in 2007.

Lally too has ALMS experience, with Dyson Racing alongside Rolex and NASCAR rides with TRG, which the team will hope brings them success in 2010.

The season begins in January 29 at Daytona.