After a season that brought five wins, five poles and the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship, Kinetic Motorsports/Kia Racing’s Nic Jonsson is looking forward to the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season, which will present a number of changes to the production-based class.
One thing that is a constant, however, is Kinetic’s Kia Optima, which remains relatively unchanged for next year, with Mark Wilkins already confirmed for a full-season return. Kinetic founder and co-owner Jonsson, meanwhile, could potentially have a revised role within the organization.
“We’re looking forward to great battles in GTS next year and are very proud for Kinetic Motorsports/Kia Racing to be part of the championship again,” Jonsson told Sportscar365. “We’re going to try to defend the manufacturers’ championship and hopefully also be able to land the drivers’ championship as well.”
The GTS class is set for a dynamic new look as it moves into standalone races next year, a move Jonsson supports for increased exposure, although coming at a sacrifice of a few key events, including Kia North America’s home race at Long Beach.
“I think it’s both good and bad,” Jonsson said of the changes for 2015. “I think it’s very good for GTS to get standalone races and their own TV package, which will give us drivers and teams a chance to win overall. It will also give GTS manufacturers much better exposure. I think it’s very positive from that side.
“The negative part is that GTS has lost out on some of the bigger venues, such as Long Beach and Detroit. Long Beach has been the KIA Grand Prix for the last couple of years and it’s very big for us in general. But all in all, having a focus just on the GTS class is a positive.”
Yet the competition is expected to remain just as fierce, with the majority of teams returning next year, as well as a handful of additions to the GTS grid.
“I think for GTS, Kia is obviously coming back and Jack Baldwin is coming back with the Porsches and will be very, very strong. We’re waiting to see if Lawson [Aschenbach] is coming back with Blackdog.
“But there will be five or six very strong cars next year, not even knowing what the Aston Martins will look like.”
Jonsson is still unsure whether he’ll return to the wheel of an Optima next year, due to his commitments with Krohn Racing, which has yet to finalize its 2015 LMP2 program.
However, next year will mark the end of Kinetic’s current-generation Optima, as the manufacturer evaluates its options for 2016 and beyond, which could see a continued presence in World Challenge.
“We’re looking to build a new Optima for 2016 and will start building them in the middle of next year,” Jonsson said. “It’s still to be decided where we those cars will be raced, whether we’ll carry on in World Challenge or look at a different direction.”