Everyone has a silly fear. Do you want to know mine? One of my worst fears (other than ghosts and falling off a building) is wrecking a car that does not belong to me. I will not drive anyone’s car for just that reason. It is with that same train of thought that I am absolutely mortified with the recent story I heard coming out of Britain.
While driving a Porsche 917, a British journalist messed up. Unfortunately the car he was driving was not his own, he was borrowing it. There is discussion on how it happened, but the end result was a very blown engine of a very amazing car, the Porsche 917.
Auto journalist ordered to pay big money for blowing up Porsche 917 engine
By Dan Roth
Racecars blow engines all the time, but a Porsche 917 isn't just a run-of-the-mill racecar. British automotive writer Mark Hales reportedly borrowed a 917 from 82-year-old former Formula One racer David Piper for a magazine article, and mechanical tragedy ensued. Nobody is arguing that the engine failed after being spun to 8,200 rpm. However, Hales was warned not to exceed 7,000 rpm, says owner Piper, and the affair landed in English courts with Piper seeking £50,000 – over $79,000 US – in reimbursement funds for an engine rebuild and loss of use of the car while it was being repaired. Judge Simon Brown ruled in favor of car owner Piper, putting Hales on the hook for £110,000 ($174,000) including legal fees – a whole lot of money in any language.
Hales says the Porsche suffered a mechanical fault while lapping that allowed it to slip out of gear and over-rev. Piper wasn't convinced, and sought to have the repair paid for by the guy who broke the racer, saying "If you bend it, you mend it." It's not like Hales is a novice driver, having seat time in both professional and amateur races over 30 years, notching about 150 wins, but even the best drivers sometimes miss a shift, and that's what Piper contended happened to his car.
According to reports, Hales has had to sell most of his valuables to pay his lawyers and is now facing bankruptcy with the ruling against him. Members of the Pistonheads website are trying to coordinate a collection to help him out, as well.
My fears are now amplified because the same luck that was on the side of the journalist is the same one that I carry with me daily. This would happen to me.
With this story my first love, a sporty Porsche, and my greatest fear, wrecking someone else’s vehicle; are combined. The silver lining at the end is that the Porsche is going to be repaired and will be amazing and road ready very soon. Too bad the event happened in Great Britain. If it was here in Virginia, the amazing Porsche Service Professionals at Checkered Flag Porsche would have mended the broken beauty.
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