Kia’s first rear-wheel drive passenger car, the Stinger, is set to go on sale later this year, providing the ideal opportunity for the Korean automaker to join the grid of Australia’s Supercars Championship.
Any move into motorsport wouldn’t happen overnight though, with Kia Australia COO Damien Meredith revealing 2020 as the earliest date possible for a potential Supercars entrant.
In an interview with TMR at the Australian launch of the new Picanto, Mr Meredith revealed that the company was still evaluating entering motor racing and wouldn’t be drawn on which Supercar teams might be approached.
Kia Australia is believed to have opened initial discussions with numerous Supercars teams including former Holden factory team Walkinshaw Racing and former Volvo squad Garry Rogers Motorsport about developing a Supercars package.
"It's something we're actively looking at. We've talked to Supercars. We've talked to, not a lot of teams, but a few teams,” Mr Meredith explained.
“If we did it, it probably wouldn't be until 2020 anyway because we wouldn't jump in. There's a lot, us as an organisation has to learn. I just don't think if you jump in there and say 'there you go guys' there's a lot of learnings you need to compile, so it wouldn't be until 2020, if we did."
Changes to Supercars regulations for the 2017 sees the series move away from naturally aspirated V8s as the sole engine option, allowing teams to develop turbocharged six and four-cylinder engines, opening the door to a race-prepped version of the Stinger’s 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6.
Meredith explained that while no final decision had yet been made, he sees Supercars as a good fit for the brand and the right place to showcase the Stinger’s performance attributes.
"I think the way we're going to position Stinger I think it would be great to have it racing on weekends," he said. "But whether or not we've got the DNA or can create the DNA, that remains to be seen."
With Supercars facing a shakeup as competing teams switch from their traditional Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon-based race programs, which have underpinned the series for decades, it seems fresh manufacturer interest could be just what the series needs to continue its revitalisation onto the next decade.