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Christopher Bruce2013-01-31 15:09:15

Judge Fines Auto Journalist $190,000 for Breaking Porsche 917

UK auto magazines claiming chilling effect

The incident brings to question whether historic racing can continue in the UK

The case of UK auto journalist Mark Hales allegedly breaking David Piper's Porsche 917917KPorsche 917KGermany, 1971 > 19713 photos
replica while driving the car for a freelance magazine article has finally been ruled on in court. The judge found in the favor of Piper and fined Hales £120,000 ($190,000 or €140,000) for the cost of the repairs. 

The incident originally happened at the Cadwell Park circuit in April of 2009. Hales is a former racing driver turned automotive journalist who was writing a freelance article for two magazines comparing the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S512 SFerrari 512 SItaly, 1970 > 19701 photo

While driving the car, it either jumped out of gear, according to him, or Hales over-revved the engine, according to Piper, which caused an engine failure. After the incident, the engine was shipped to Germany to be rebuilt.

The car that Hales was driving was not a 917 with racing provenance. Piper had it built using Porsche components from several 917s. Since the incident, Piper has sold the car for £1.25 million ($2 million or €1.5 million)

The UK's Octane magazine had provided insurance coverage, but it only covered medical liability, not damage to the car. Hales did not have any other insurance for driving the car. Both mean agree that there was a verbal agreement that if Hales wrecked the car, he would be liable for the damages. However, he claims that in this case, he did not have anything to do with the damage - the car had a pre-existing mechanical problem that caused it to jump out of gear. 

The incident has caused an interesting discussion in the UK automotive press. In his view, it is not. There have also been pieces written about whether this incident will have detrimental impact on other UK journalists driving classic cars and an effect on the classic racing scene in general. There is also a discussion of whether journalists insuring themselves are even feasible. 

In the mean times, Hales faces the court's fine plus his lawyer's fees, which he says are more than he is able to pay, and faces bankruptcy. A fund has been set up for him to help pay his fees. 

Source: Autocar

V 12 (180º vee)
274 cu in
Top Speed
4, Manual
Maximum power
580 hp @ 8400 rpm
Fixed-head coupé
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost

1 comment

Wow a bit sad hopefully this incident won't ruin other journalist's chances at getting their hands on classic cars, Hales shouldnt have been throwing it around as aggresively as he was.
03.02.2013 @ 04:36


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