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FIST – Team AAI will make its Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS comeback this year after confirming a two-car full-season programme.
The long-time BMW customer has committed a pair of M4 GT3s to the six-event, 12-race campaign after making race-by-race appearances with the previous generation M6 back in 2017.
One of its Pro drivers from that season, current BMW factory ace Jesse Krohn, is also returning alongside Betty Chen in the first of FIST – Team AAI’s two Pro-Am entries. The second features namesake (but no relation) Kevin Chen and another works driver, Jens Klingmann.
They join a championship unable to accommodate every team hoping to race this year after the number of firm entries exceeded a self-imposed capacity over the Christmas period. 40+ cars – the most in Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia history – are expected to compete from Round 2 onwards when the Fanatec Japan Cup kicks off at Fuji, while at least 25 look likely to contest the season opener in Thailand.
Among them will be Kevin Chen who won the STS Taiwan TCR-A title with FIST – Team AAI last season and has also previously contested China GT with the team. He tested the latest spec M4 GT3 in December and will now make his Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia debut at Chang International Circuit on May 12-14.
“Covid-19 has restricted mine and the team’s race programme since the end of 2019 but we’ve remained sharp by making the most of our opportunities closer to home,” he said. “Now, with the world opening up again, it’s the perfect time to join Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia with FIST – Team AAI. We watched from the sidelines last season, liked what we saw and now cannot wait to join the grid at Buriram.
“Winning STS Taiwan with the team has given me a lot of confidence, while Jens [Klingmann] knows the M4 GT3 inside out from his development work with BMW. And we also saw how competitive Team Studie were with the same car last season. All of the ingredients are in place for a promising year.”
Betty Chen, meanwhile, is the daughter of FIST – Team AAI owner Jun San Chen who made several Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia appearances in 2017. Betty already has race experience of the M4 GT3 from her time in British GT last season, and also made a Thai Super Series appearance with the same family outfit she’ll now represent full-time in 2023.
“This year will be my first full-season programme in Asia and I can’t wait to get started,” she said. “The pandemic came along at precisely the wrong moment for my fledgling racing career but I was able to get some useful mileage in British GT and elsewhere last year in preparation for FIST – Team AAI’s continental return.
“It’s also great to be paired with Jesse [Krohn] who will get the best out of me and the M4 GT3. We’ll be doing plenty of testing between now and the opening round in Thailand where I expect to hit the ground running.”
2023’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia campaign includes visits to four Japanese circuits – Suzuka, Motegi and Okayama, as well as Fuji – before concluding at Sepang.