Grahovec, Raphael & Ohmacht enjoy first day of street circuit action
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The all-new Fast Track Racing sponsored by CLASSIC BMW GTS racing team made its GTSA class debut Friday in the opening day of competition for the Pirelli World Challenge racing events in the streets of St. Petersburg with Toby Grahovec, Justin Raphael and Chris Ohmacht all in action at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit near the St. Petersburg harbor.
Grahovec, the 2016 PWC TC series champion, paced the three-car operation Friday in the two GTS practice rounds by taking his No. 26 Fast Track Racing/CLASSIC BMW BMW M4 GT4 sports car to the seventh overall quickest time of the 28-driver GTS field.
The former college hockey player recorded a best time of one minute, 20.546 seconds (80.45 miles per hour) to place second in the GTSA division Friday. The GTS division is classified with two categories – GTS (for pros and regulars) and GTSA (for the new and non-professional drivers).
“It’s very exciting to come to a street course again and for the opening race of the season,” said Grahovec, the veteran from Celina, Tex. “The St. Pete track is a lot of fun with the tight corners and the long, wide straightaway of the airport strip. That first turn should be pretty wild because you can be four or five cars wide into the corner. You have to thread your way through the first couple of turns. Plus, you have blind corners with the regular city streets. It’s been some ten years since my last street race in Canada. But I think we are all enjoying the experience.”
Both Raphael and Ohmacht are making their debuts in the GTS class as well as their first street racing experience this weekend. They have been learning the new track as well as competing on a street surface.
“The street circuit is much different from a regular race track,” said Raphael, whose best time Friday was 1:21.839 (79.17 m.p.h.) in the No. 17 BMW M4 GT4 car. “You have concrete walls right on the edge of the track and the track surface changes from asphalt to concrete at times. It’s very tricky but fun.”
Ohmacht clocked in Friday with a best of 1:22.451 (78.59 m.p.h.) in his No. 92 BMW M4 GT4 machine and continues to improve his times with each run.
“This track is tough if you are a rookie here in St. Petersburg,” said Ohmacht, like Raphael from Franklin Lakes, N.J. “This is my first street race. There are so many different factors to consider from a regular race track. But I am having a great time so far. I’m now looking forward to qualifying and the races on Saturday and Sunday.”
Qualifying for the GTS and GTSA classes is set for Saturday at 9:40 a.m. EST with the first 50-minute sprint race scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Sunday’s GTS and GTSA race is to begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT.
CLASSIC BMW in Plano, Tex., heads up the BMW customer racing program in North America, with customer-built cars and has already captured the 2016 PWC Touring Car title with Gravohec and the BMW M235iRacing. The BMW M235iR racing sedan also won the PWC Touring Car manufacturer’s championship in 2017.