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Journo to pay huge repair bill

2013-01-28 12:17

CAN I PAY IT OF MONTLY? Motoring journalist Mark Hales faces bankruptcy after being found liable for costs relating to repairs of a Porsche 917 replica like the one pictured here.

LONDON, England - A journalist is facing financial ruin after he blew up the engine of a R18-million Porsche he had borrowed from a former F1 driver.

According to the London Daily Mail, Mark Hales was testing the Porsche 917 replica belonging to David Piper for a magazine article comparing it with a classic Ferrari owned by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason when he accidentally over-revved the engine.

Hales claimed that the veteran multimillionaire driver had agreed to cover the damage but a High Court judge has ruled Hales responsible and liable for the R1-million repairs and legal costs.

COSTLY ARTICLE

Hales said he had been having difficulty with the car and claimed that as he changed from second to third it 'popped out', causing the engine to over-rev and blow up. He was adamant that he had a deal with  Piper, 82, who drove for Lotus F1 in 1959 and 1960 and that, as a rule, owners took care of mechanical problems while drivers paid for crash damage.

“The Porsche 917 is a tough car to drive and it is a matter of fact that the engines blow up,” Hales explained. “Everybody has done it and I knew this was the case.

“I had a conversation with David Piper and he asked me what happened if the engine blew up. I told him I couldn't be responsible and he said OK, but then chose to forget the conversation. If you crash the car you repair it but if it is mechanical you don't. It was a gentleman's agreement and I didn't write it down.

"I had a similar agreement with Nick Mason for the Ferrari of his which I was driving.”

TOP SPEED 400KM/H

Piper had the Porsche repaired by a German specialist at a cost of R522 000 before selling the replica race car for R18-million. He also owns an original 917 worth more than R70-million.

The car is powered by a five-litre engine with a top speed of close to 400km/h and 0-100kph in 2.3sec. The car won the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1970 and 1971.

In his findings, Judge Simon Brown blamed Hales for failing to "properly engage gear having been expressly told to do so and specifically warned about the risk of serious damage to the car if this were not done".

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