Kia America is headed to the iconic Rebelle Rally for the third year in a row, this time with a 2023 Sportage X-Pro that has been modified to handle the harsh topography that makes up the 1,500-mile navigational challenge. Teammates Verena Mei (driver) and Tana White (navigator) return this year for redemption in the X-Cross class after placing second in the Sorento PHEV last year.
“Kia’s longest running nameplate has a storied past of off-road desert racing with impressive results to boot in the Paris-Dakar rally and Baja 1000 race,” said Steve Center, COO and EVP, Kia America. “An incredible off-road contender back then, the latest iteration of the Sportage will build upon its legacy by tackling the arduous Rebelle Rally with finesse, especially with such a fierce team at the helm.”
To help further the success of the team out on the trail, Kia partnered with Theresa Contreras and Sara Morosan, the powerhouse-sister team and owners of LGE-CTS Motorsports and Baja Forged off-road products, to prime the 2023 Sportage X-Pro for the rally. Wearing a wrap inspired by Kia’s new slogan, “Movement that Inspires,” the Sportage dons custom Baja Forged front- and rear bumpers complete with tow points and a custom roof rack. Skidplates in the front, rear and underbody will help protect the Sportage’s underbelly, while 17-inch Rhino wheels are wrapped in BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A K02 tires, sponsored by Michelin.
This treatment enhances the already capable Sportage X-Pro, which is powered by a 187-hp 2.5-liter I-4 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Made for outdoor adventures right out of the gate, the X-Pro comes standard with an Active AWD system and multi-terrain drive modes with Normal, Sport, Smart, and Snow.
In 2021, two 2022 Sorento PHEVs earned podium spots in the X-Cross class with second- and third place finishes. The previous year, a 2020 Telluride narrowly missed first place in the X-Cross class. Follow this year’s team on RebelleRally.com from Oct. 6-15.