Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Team AAI

Words & Snaps by Sam
One man’s dream turned reality. One man’s passion realised, in a world where the overwhelming majority’s are not. Welcome to pure racing… Welcome to Team AAI.

Based in Taiwan, Team AAI are no newcomers to the world of motorsports. Since their foundation in 1990 by current owner and main driver, Jun-San Chen, the team has competed in many premier race series, not just across Asia, but all over the globe.

From the European Blancpain Endurance series to the Asian Le Mans series, to name just a few, Team AAI have competed and conquered.

And with Team AAI’s recent capture of the Asian Le Mans series GT class title still very fresh in the memory, POWAA Garage went along to their HQ in Taipei to take a closer look.

In December 2014, Team AAI has taken the title for the GT class of the Asian Le Mans series, after finishing third at Sepang. This means they now have two tickets for the GT-Am class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year; something which can only be described as remarkable for a team from a country in which motorsports isn’t really something that has a huge following.

However, this is beginning to change, and with a second international circuit being planned to add to the existing Penbay Circuit, popularity is clearly increasing.

This doesn’t just come about by chance though, and Team AAI has surely had a major role in getting more local people interested.

Many motorsports teams have been created with large amounts of initial money and investment; they pop out from nowhere, and often disappear just as quickly as they arrived. Motorsports is a tough environment and definitely not for the faint hearted.

So what makes Team AAI different? What makes them so special?

Passion is the answer.

With passion comes fight, and fight is what is needed to survive this tough sport, where money often dictates whether you live or die.

Team AAI hasn’t simply come along and bought success. No, they’ve had to do it the hard way. They’ve had to start right at grassroots level and fight all the way to the top, and this for us fans, is what we love to see.

Jun-San Chen built this team from the ground up, and failure was never going to be an option for him. With a passion for racing from an early age, Jun-San knew this was all he wanted to do, but how do you get into such a lucrative sport without the money?

Well Team AAI initially started out as a parts supplier, providing tuning parts, mainly from Japan, to customers in Taiwan. This is a side of the business that has never ceased, and Team AAI still continues to be a main distributor for many tuning part manufacturers across Asia and the world.

With a firm distribution business now in place, how did Jun-San Chen and Team AAI build on their racing dreams? Of course, without a huge investment, you have to start “small”, so Team AAI chose to initially compete in the South Asian Tuning Car series, before moving onto the Tuning Car Championship.

With successes there, they were then able to push on to compete in bigger, more prestigious championships, such as the Japan Super GT, and now of course, the Asian Le Mans series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

So with Team AAI now winning the Asian Le Mans series, and gaining two entries into the GT-Am class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, what is the next step on the proverbial ladder for Mr. Jun-San Chen?

It’s very clear that Jun-San Chen sees Team AAI very much as a family, and families grow together. So with Team AAI still competing at many levels, they will make sure that they continue to support and invest in other, more localised championships, without rushing off to invest everything into the “next level”.

Measured growth has clearly been one of the keys to success here, and with a passion for all kinds of racing, Mr. Jun-San Chen sees no single form of motorsport as being more important than any other.

Team AAI will also continue to develop its customer base, and aims to “establish an all-in-one catering service for the automotive enthusiast, from racing events to promotional events here in Asia”.

Mr. Jun-San Chen would like to thank his fellow friends and fans that have supported Team AAI, in order to accomplish its achievements today.

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