Test drive costs student $70,000 after he crashes sports car

A STUDENT who was given a test drive in a Dutch-made sports car at a private race track will have to pay more than $70,000 in damages after crashing it.

Mr Sean Liew Cheng En drove the Spyker C8 Spyder SWB at 240kmh during the invite-only event at the Singapore Changi Airshow Exhibition Centre.

He had been given a briefing on the vehicle's capabilities and how he should drive it, according to a court judgment published yesterday. But while negotiating a series of turns, the National University of Singapore undergraduate lost control of the car, which spun anti-clockwise, hit the kerb and landed back on the tarmac.

He will have to pay damages to luxury vehicle importer and distributer Auto Palace after the district court found he had driven "at a speed that was non-commensurate with his abilities".

Mr Liew was 22 when he turned up for the invite-only event in 2009. He was allowed behind the wheel of the two-seater sports car after his father asked Auto Palace if the student could take a test drive.

First, he had to follow a set of procedures including the briefing by driving instructor Martijn Schilte - who also drove the car on a demonstration lap with the young man beside him.

When Mr Liew took over the wheel during the second lap, the vehicle spun off the track at the safety area.

The same thing happened on the following lap but he managed to recover and continue with the drive. However, on the way back to the start area, he lost control of the car.

Neither man was injured, but the car was damaged.

Before the test laps, Mr Liew had signed a form that required drivers to indemnify Auto Palace against any loss or damage. But he mistakenly put his signature in the witness' column and failed to provide his name and identity card number.

Auto Palace, a subsidiary of Hong Seh Motor, sought compensation for costs including repairing the car and fixing the kerbs.

District Judge Seah Chi Ling said Mr Liew had driven in a way that was "inconsistent with what a reasonable and prudent man would have done in a similar situation".

He added that Auto Palace had "adequately proven the reasonableness of each of the amounts claimed".