Own a piece of Singapore motorsport history - for S$100k

Derryn Wong

Ex-A1 GP driver Denis Lian’s race helmet is now on sale for the price of a Toyota Corolla Altis

A rather interesting item listing has popped up on the local classified app Carousell. 

Posted a week ago, it advertises an original race helmet belonging to Singaporean racing driver Denis Lian, priced at rather steep S$100,000.88. That’s enough you buy you the latest 12th-gen Toyota Corolla Altis.

While high prices for used gear isn’t in the realm of impossibility, they’re from accordingly big names in motorsport. For example, authentic F1 helmets usually go for a few thousand at most – a Kimi Raikkonen test helmet for example, though tens of thousands isn’t unheard of for say, a used Michael Schumacher race helmet. 

The most expensive race helmet ever auctioned belonged to Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian driver’s karting helmet went for 162,000 Euros (S$242,000) in an auction in February last year. Senna is often touted as one of the best racing drivers in history. Even if he wasn’t, he’s certainly one of the most famous, which accounts for all the zeroes behind the pricetag.

Singapore does have a motorsport heritage, but it’s stunted and shrunken 
thanks to the near-total lack of efforts to promote motorsport that’s been the status quo here for decades since the original Singapore GP died in 1973.

Given all that, you can see why the pricing on Lian’s helmet is quite optimistic. 

We can’t identify the brand of helmet, but it’s undoubtedly a car racing helmet – see the HANS system installed. If it’s really from 2005 though we don’t recommend you wear it since helmets should be replaced every five years or so.

Denis Lian is best known as one of the Team Singapore drivers for A1 GP, the single-seater series which billed itself as a World Cup of motor racing and ran from 2005 to 2009.

The series’ first season saw 25 teams from different countries taking part, with 11 races across the globe, and the winning team from France. Team Singapore joined in the second season in 2006, comprised of Lian, and two other drivers, Hafiz Koh, and Christian Murchison. It only took part in two of the 22 races, with Lian competing in the event at Czechoslovakia, finishing 18th. 

In contrast, Malaysia fared far better in A1 GP – Malaysian ex-F1 Alex Yoong won the Czech race, and took sixth place in the overall ranking that season. 

Lian, who was one of the first Singaporeans to race in single-seaters in Europe, has seen more success in endurance racing, taking an Asian LeMans Series category championship in 2015, and a second overall in the 2014 ALMS drivers’ championship.

His talent behind the wheel was never in doubt, but pursuing motorsports here has always been a particular challenge. With even sporting heroes like Joseph Schooling having to fund their own careers, it’s perhaps no surprise why. 


denis lian helmet motorsport racing

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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