24hrs of Dubai

The Race
The Practice
The VDS Team
The Students
The NBT Team
The Experience
Pictures here

NBT Video

A dream comes true for Banchong and Saek!
The VDS Racing Team of Belgium, Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz and Count Raphael van der Straten Ponthoz, owner of the team, offer an incredible experience to two Akha students of Chiangrai. (view the NBT video program here!)

The 24hrs of Dubai car race.

Who would think that Saek and Banchong, two hill tribe students of the northernmost province of Chiangrai would one day access the dream of participating to an international high level care race?
They not only participated to the event, but have been fully integrated in the Racing Team VDS, which enlisted a Ford Mustang in this year's race.

The students left Chiangrai on the 5th of January and boarded a 7hrs flight to Dubai, via Bangkok and Madras.
The first two days were devoted to the visit of this incredible city of Dubai, with all its extavagances, the highest high rise building in the world, the most expensive hotel, the desert, the shopping experience and more...

While Dubai was full of surprises for the these two youngsters coming from very disadvantaged background, the greatest joy came from another source: The warmest possible welcome from all the members of the Team VDS.
Count Raphael and all his team succeeded in making Banchong and Saek feel really integrated in the group in a record time.
The athmosphere has evolved towards friendship very quickly. The students felt especialy happy to see all members of the team wear the Ahka bracelets which they brought from Thailand.

The whole team has been wearing the bracelet during all the race, and two Akha bags which were done by the mother of Saek were hanged by Count Raphael in the stand as a "lucky amulet". From the team, both students and Count Gerald, younger brother of Count Raphael, were handed over a VDS Team uniform and were ready to head for the Dubai autodrome for the first practice and qualifications.
It was certainly exciting moment when the student discovered the car, a brand new Ford Mustang, one of the 25 examples which have been built for car competition.
The car was bought in the US, but modified as a racing car in Canada, before to be shipped to Belgium.
The VDS Team owns two Ford Mustang of 420 horse power,

5000cc, and wearing a red livrery with blue and white stripes.
The VDS Team has a long history. It was started in 1964 by Count Rodolphe van der Straten Ponthoz, the grandfather of Count Raphael and Count Gerald . After a long history of successes all over the world, the team is now revived by Count Raphael, for whom car racing is a passion.
But passion can be shared, and this is what this is exactly what this project was about.
Sharing the passion of speed, the athmosphere of car racing, the friendship between the team members, the stress and excitement of the competition, in a sport accessible for only the lucky few.
Indeed, car racing is a very expensive hobby and sport. It demands heavy and constant investment, journeys abroad, ... in other words, a world nearly innaccessible for most youngsters.
Count Raphael made the dream fully accessible for both
Banchong and Saek, have been able to feel and live every single aspect of this wonderful sport event.
Count Gerald, Chairman of the Chao Phya Abhai Raja Siammanukulkij Foundation, and sponsor of the Team VDS, has also been very impressed by the warm welcome which the students received from all the team members. Even under stressful situation, as such a competition can be, everyone was paying attention to the student and be sure that they were actively involved in the race, helping the team in many task, except the driving of the car, which was, of course, reserved for the professionals.
The quality of this racing experience for the students has been well above what everybody expected, ... for the greatest happiness of everyone involved.
"Never let anyone steal your dreams"...

Car racing is the dream of Count Raphael van der Straten Ponthoz. We can say that after this extraordinary trip, Banchong and Saek are part of his dream.

The whole trip, which was fully privately financed by the van der Straten brothers, was accompanied by a crew of NBT TV, headed by Khun Somjai Sasomsarp, Executive Director of the Government Public Relations Office (Region 3, Thailand).
The crew followed the two students during one week and witnessed the incredible experience of Banchong and Saek, the athmosphere of the team, the discovery of Dubai, and all the feelings involved in this successful story.
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