A six-year absence from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge appears to have had no effect on Toby Grahovec.
In fact, one would have to look back an additional five years for Grahovec’s most recent full-season campaign in the series, which came in the ST class in 2007.
Now in the dual role of team manager and co-driver of the No. 26 Classic BMW / Vess Energy Group BMW M4 GT4, Grahovec described how the BMW GT4’s unveil in July was the catalyst for his return to the series.
“With BMW coming out with the M4 GT4 car, it was the perfect opportunity for us to come back to IMSA since we’re associated with Classic BMW (based in Plano, Texas), one of the biggest BMW dealerships in the U.S.,” Grahovec said.
“We are one of the main dealers for BMW Motorsports, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to come back and promote the product and sell the product.”
Two races into the Continental Tire Challenge season, Grahovec and his team are showing just how strong the BMW GT4 is.
Driving with Mike Vess and Jason Hart, Grahovec landed a fourth-place finish at January’s BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona and followed that with a runner-up finish at the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 two weeks ago alongside Jayson Clunie at Sebring.
The consecutive top-five finishes have put the Texan second in the GS class standings, close behind defending champion Dillon Machavern and his co-driver and series veteran Spencer Pumpelly.
“The season so far has been awesome,” said Grahovec. “You always plan to be up front, but to be five points out of first is really awesome after the first two events. We had a great run at Daytona, finished fourth, and came back at Sebring. I thought we had a good shot after the pit stop in the battle for the lead, so that was pretty awesome to finish second there.”
Grahovec is no stranger to running up front, having won the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Championship, two SCCA National Championships and finishing runner-up in the 2006 U.S. Touring Car Championship.
But there’s something about running up front in the Continental Tire Challenge that seems to be more meaningful, especially given the GS class’ staggering growth over the last two years.
BMW is just one of seven manufacturers competing for the win in 2018 and the driver lineups range from newcomers to sports car legends.
“The field is probably one of the most competitive fields in the U.S. for sure,” said Grahovec. “I mean, there’s people from all over the world, top drivers that have raced GT4 and GT3 cars for a while. It’s pretty awesome to be able to go up against them and be competitive with them. I think a lot of it has to do with that we have a great engineering staff. It’s definitely a team effort.”