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Grahovec, Classic BMW Rising to the Top in CTSC Return

Toby Grahovec making waves in return to Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

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.”

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Sol Shine

    March 30, 2018 at 10:32 am

    These type of articles saying things like “how strong the car is” when talking about series with BOP are laughable. The “strong car” is the one the BOP gods decide to make strong. Racing has become a bloody marketing exercise, where the sanctioning body makes sure everyone has good BOP for a win or two. Want proof? Look no further than the hack job they have done on the Mustang. Must be a mighty fine platform for them to feel they have to gag the engine and lard the car up beyond all other cars in the series. SRO is euro biased as well, for certain. These BOP series are just a joke, a sad mockery of racing.

    • Luna Shine

      April 2, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      Not necessarily. BoP will balance the cars performance, yes, but some cars might be ‘easier’ to drive at the limit than others.

      If the BMW only requires 90% skill to run up front, but the Camaro requires 110%, the BMW could be considered the ‘stronger’ car.

      I would MUCH rather see a BoP series with multiple cars/manufactures and everyone being close in pace than no BoP and have 1 car win every race without competition.

  2. Anthony Thomas

    April 1, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Well Sol I do somewhat agree that it has become a marketing exercise and not about competition so much.

    This car increased grid sizes so it’s not all bad. For those that remember racing from the golden era this might be frustrating. But the racing is closer than ever and I always thought that is what fans wanted?

    You can no longer have it both ways, IE may the best team, platform, tire win. You have to level the playing field with one, two or even three of those things to create a situation where the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.

  3. MikeK

    April 9, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    I suspect the team will run a full season of PWC and only selected IMSA events.

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