Journalist blew up Porsche!

Posted: 22nd January 2013

A motoring journalist who was at the wheel of a classic racing car when its engine blew up has been ordered to pay nearly £50,000 damages to its owner after the High Court ruled that the damage was caused by 'driver error'. The defendant’s plea that the car had a faulty gearbox was rejected as ‘self-interested and cynical’.

Mark Hales, an experienced racing driver and freelance writer, had taken the Porsche 917 belonging to ex-Formula One driver David Piper for a test drive in preparation for a magazine article. The engine of the car, which is valued at £1.25 million, failed catastrophically during the drive and substantial repairs were necessary.Porsche917

The car’s owner, the claimant, was awarded £47,961.86 damages after Judge Simon Brown QC ruled that the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to the damage having been caused by the over-revving of the engine following the defendant’s failure to properly engage gear.

The defendant had initially admitted his error but subsequently changed his account after insurers denied liability for the damage. He was described by the judge as ‘a most unreliable witness whose evidence was creative, inconsistent, self-motivated and incredible.’ Also ordering the defendant to pay the claimant’s legal costs, estimated at £76,000, the judge said that the court 'must show its displeasure' in respect of litigation conduct that was 'not to be tolerated'.