While GT3 has made it possible for Pirelli World Challenge GT teams to buy race-ready vehicles from the manufacturers, and the trend is spreading to the GTS category with the introduction of GT4-spec cars, most Touring Car teams build their own cars. With a podium finish in Round 1 and a win in Round 2 at Circuit of The Americas, Toby Grahovec could alter that landscape.
Grahovec and his team, Classic BMW Motorsports, introduced the BMW M235i Racing to Pirelli World Challenge Touring car to great effect, scoring a second and a first in the opening weekend.
Grahovec, the race team and performance manager for Classic BMW in Plano, Texas, took delivery of the cars – Gino Carini is driving the second one – only a couple weeks ago, and tested at COTA with the assistance of BMW Motorsports. Thanks to the fact that the car, sold as a ready-to-race package through BMW Motorsports dealers, has raced at the Nurburgring 24 Hours and in its own one-make championship, BMW had a lot of data to get the setup pretty close.
“We came here two weeks ago with BMW and tested, so that helped a lot getting the car up to speed and getting a good setup under the car,” says Grahovec, who won in the Touring Car A category at Mid-Ohio last season in a Z4. “It’s such a great car to drive, I’m very excited about running this car for the rest of the season.”
Interestingly, despite BMW having a very capable dual-clutch gearbox in its arsenal, they decided to equip the M235iR with an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.
“It’s pretty awesome with the paddleshifts, and its awesome on the standing starts. To me, it feels as good as the dual-clutch gearbox,” he says.
After finishing second to Vesko Kozarov in a CA Sports Nissan 370Z on Friday afternoon, the Classic BMW team tweaked the setup of Grahovec’s car to get rid of some understeer. An early mistake by Kozarov helped Grahovec to the front, and he cruised to victory.
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