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Piper v. Hales


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#1 h4887

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 20:41

An interesting article here:

http://www.telegraph...e-explodes.html

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#2 MCS

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 20:55

Porsche 917 and Cadwell Park ?! :confused:

That, in itself, is odd. Wonder where the Ferrari 512 was driven...?

#3 GMACKIE

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 21:30

Mr Piper should have had a sign on the dash-board, like the ones often seen in Antique shops, reading:-

"All breakages must be paid for".

#4 LittleChris

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 22:37

Porsche 917 and Cadwell Park ?! :confused:

That, in itself, is odd. Wonder where the Ferrari 512 was driven...?


I do too, it wouldn't be much of a comparison unless both were driven at the same place. I have to say that, much as I love Cadwell, for a comparison of two cars of this ilk, probably only Buckmore Park or Kimbolton would be less appropriate !!

#5 Bloggsworth

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 23:17

Given that the engines in racing cars occassionally blow up regardless of how carefully one drives them - H16s at 2,500 revs before the car had even moved if tales are to be believed. The gearbox could have had an existing, undetected fault, undetected by either party.

#6 LittleChris

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 00:29

Given that the engines in racing cars occassionally blow up regardless of how carefully one drives them - H16s at 2,500 revs before the car had even moved if tales are to be believed. The gearbox could have had an existing, undetected fault, undetected by either party.


I think that's the Hales line in court and to be fair he's driven a lot of cars over the years and hasn't to my knowledge been outed as someone who is mechanically unsympathetic


#7 David Birchall

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:14

One wonders why a simple rev limiter wasn't fitted?

#8 GMACKIE

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:55

One wonders why a simple rev limiter wasn't fitted?

Not much use if "failing to engage the right gear" was the problem....eg. 3rd instead of 5th.


#9 Emery0323

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:54

Not much use if "failing to engage the right gear" was the problem....eg. 3rd instead of 5th.


Along those lines - I seem to recall that there is a history of Porsche 917 gearshift being easy to slot incorrectly.
I think that's what cost Siffert and Redman the LeMans 24 hour race in 1970.

#10 275 GTB-4

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 09:30

Along those lines - I seem to recall that there is a history of Porsche 917 gearshift being easy to slot incorrectly.
I think that's what cost Siffert and Redman the LeMans 24 hour race in 1970.


In racing you are allowed to do that sort of thing once...to do nothing about it is inexcusable :rolleyes: (geez Louise, a simple gate or lock-out?? gearbox upgrade??)

#11 backfire

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:23

In racing you are allowed to do that sort of thing once...to do nothing about it is inexcusable :rolleyes: (geez Louise, a simple gate or lock-out?? gearbox upgrade??)

Just a thought - don't 917s rev to 8000 at least? If so would that be a sign that the engine was overdue for a rebuild, or faulty, to blow at 8200?

#12 Tony Matthews

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 13:16

Surely you accept the risk in letting someone - anyone - drive your car. Why was there no insurance? If there was insurance, where's the problem?

#13 mfd

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 13:37

Surely you accept the risk in letting someone - anyone - drive your car. Why was there no insurance? If there was insurance, where's the problem?

As I understand it - it all depends on who asked who to drive the car.


#14 LittleBertha

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 14:22

Piper won the case at High Court

Mark Hales must pay the £50k plus £63k for Piper's costs as well as his own legal outlay

There is a lengthy and explanatory post on another forum from Mark (and of course his perspective in this matter) which ends ....Hales is now facing bankruptcy and likely to lose his house.

Edited by LittleBertha, 19 January 2013 - 14:23.


#15 h4887

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 15:55

What journalist is ever going to want to drive someone else's car in future?

#16 Derwent Motorsport

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 16:33

Funnily enough a couple of months ago Classic Car magazine did a feature on my MG BGT which is in the current issue. We spent a whole day in the Lakes doing photos but the staff writer only drove the car for about ten miles, I did the rest. When arranging it beforehand he did say they were fully insured but I assumed this was for accidents etc. What about mechanical damage? It must be the same for film companies etc. It would interesting to see what exaclty the insurance covers!

#17 Sharman

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 16:40

Didn't the Top Gear crew damage a C Type?

#18 Mistron

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 16:49

I believe they treated Adrian Hamiltons 'C' Type rather like they stole it - smoking tyres and damaged half shafts were mentioned I think. Not sure if it went to court?

Seems a rather harsh judgement on Mr Hales. Wonder ehat the magazin's role is. He is presumably a freelance and planned to pitch them the article, rather than being commissioned by them?

#19 opplock

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 16:54

A bizarre story. Firstly I cannot imagine why anyone would choose to drive a 917 at Cadwell (low hire fees?) or why an owner would agree to it. Secondly both Messrs Piper and Hales should have ascertained that the magazine had arranged appropriate insurance and read the policy.

I know of a kit car manufacturer who was put out of business several years after a journalist destroyed the prototype for a new model. It was after the accident that the manufacturer discovered that the magazine had no insurance cover for such eventualities.

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#20 mfd

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 17:11

Wonder what the magazine's role is. He is presumably a freelance and planned to pitch them the article, rather than being commissioned by them?


No - "The test was a joint effort between two publishers, Octane/Dennis and 911 and Porsche World/Auto Italia/CHP"

Edited by mfd, 19 January 2013 - 17:12.


#21 Alan Cox

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 17:39

I believe they treated Adrian Hamiltons 'C' Type rather like they stole it - smoking tyres and damaged half shafts were mentioned I think. Not sure if it went to court?

I think Top Gear's yobbish treatment of the C Type is a million miles away from the way Mark Hales behaves in a racing car. A fine bloke and superb driver. Really tough if the comment about the amount he will have to stump up is true.

#22 LittleBertha

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 18:00

Alan - here is Mark's reply from elsewhere - not sure on the protocol with this 0 can delete if requested

Chaps; thanks for the kind words but if I may, I'd like to proffer a completely factual account. I have hardly ever posted on a forum but in this case, sadly, I am in a position to know.

The test was a joint effort between two publishers (Octane/Dennis, and 911 and Porsche World/Auto Italia/CHP).

The 917 part of the test was a commercial arrangement and the fee was split between Octane Magazine and the rest. The other car in the test (Nick Mason's Ferrari 512S) was provided on the understanding that out of pocket costs were covered.

There was an agreement between Piper and Hales as to the terms of the hire. Piper knew that crash damage was covered by insurance which was provided by Octane Magazine but there was a very specific discussion about damage to the engine in the case of an overrev. The Porsche 917 has a very tricky gearshift which caught out top level drivers like Vic Elford and Jo Siffert. This is well documented in the history books

Hales regularly gets to drive cars like this because his reputation is well established and his experience with different cars is extensive. He is not however, and never has been in a position to indemnify any damage. This is well established custom and practice in the historic race car world.

Piper agreed that the mechanicals would not be covered.

This was an agreement between gentlemen and was not written down. Piper chose not to remember the conversation in court.

On the day, the 917's gearshift was particularly difficult, especially shifting into third. Hales came straight into the pits to report this to Piper's mechanic. Hales was told that this was a matter of adjustment (the implication being that they didn't have the time or the inclination to make that adjustment) and please to be careful.

Hales found that if he held his hand on the gearlever and released the clutch, the overrun would tell him if and when the gear was engaged. Sometimes it wouldn't and he had to go back to second and try the shift again at lower revs. Not an ideal way to get the feel of a 917.

Later in the day, Hales short-shifted from second to third to make sure the gear was changed before the next corner but didn't hold his hand on the lever long enough. The car drove on the synchromesh for a fraction of a second then spat the gear out and the engine overrevved.

In court, the mechanic chose not to remember the visit to the pits or the conversation that took place there.

This is all a matter of public record, as is an invoice which was produced in evidence, bearing the date February 30th. The issuer of the invoice also misspelt his own name.

Piper spent £63,000 in lawyer's fees and was predictably successful in the High Court.

Hales made some very silly mistakes since the event, and was badly served by less expensive lawyers.

Octane Magazine made a financial offer of settlement. This was declined and there was no further discussion.

Piper has since sold the car for £1.3million which is entirely his prerogative.

Hales is now facing bankruptcy and likely to lose his house.

Edited by LittleBertha, 19 January 2013 - 18:01.


#23 Mistron

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 19:16

The above is clearly a biased view, but I must say, given MH's reputation as a safe pair of hands, Mr Piper doesn't come out of this looking all that nice a chap, which surprises me as I always got the impression he was a decent fellow. I'm sure he has his reasons for his views of course. Quite why a settlement wasn't agreed when offered always surprises me, can't imagine that a lawyer would have any reason to counsel against accepting such an agreement...........

I hope someone steps in (magazine or whoever) to help MH out - seems harsh for him (and family?) to loose everything over such a thing.

The whole thing just seems unnesesarily unpleasant.

#24 alansart

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 19:47

I have a lot of sympathy for Mark Hales and I hope things aren't as bad as they seem for him. This could also raise issues with future Track Tests and whether Journalists and Magazines would be prepared to take a risk anymore.

My PRS was used in a group FF1600 test for Motoring News in the 80's. I can't remember if there was agreement for damage - Simon Arron or Ian Smith (Diz) might know. I know our little single seater is not a Porsche 917 but at the time a major engine failure or accident could have stopped us racing for a while.

#25 Norman Jones

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 23:36

I rarely post on here - I just don't have the knowledge you chaps have. But this has moved me to comment.

Mark Hales - never met him but has regular drives at Goodwood and other historic meetings so is, I assume well trusted by owners of these type of cars.
Am not implying he could never make a mistake - accident damage, over rev an engine etc but less likely with his experience.
However where does a case like this put Historic racing? In particular events such as Goodwood - Priceless cars entrusted to "aces" some of which do not have the sympathy of MH? The lack of car sympathy with a certain former BMW dealer is well known.
What of Barry Williams? Not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. Would he now stop and think before driving Dick Skipworth's Tojeiro Jaguar or the like?
I feel that the High Court may have set a precedent here and a rash of similar claims could follow. Do drivers race with an understanding they will not be blamed or sued for damage mechanical or otherwise? If so is this belief mislead?
I am aware of the expression "you bend it you mend it" perhaps this a wake up call to the true meaning of this phrase.

I always had a lot of respect fo "Pipes" but this has now gone.

#26 Emery0323

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 00:41

However where does a case like this put Historic racing? In particular events such as Goodwood - Priceless cars entrusted to "aces" some of which do not have the sympathy of MH?
...
I feel that the High Court may have set a precedent here and a rash of similar claims could follow. Do drivers race with an understanding they will not be blamed or sued for damage mechanical or otherwise? If so is this belief mislead?


At the very least, this court judgement appears to highlight the need for more comprehensive, legally water-tight insurance coverage for mechanical damage to vintage racing cars.

Is a new niche in the within the specialized business of collector car insurance about to be spawned? There's a commercial opportunity there, I suppose. The associated costs will no doubt be very high, but the possibility of bankruptcy for drivers of these cars might be too sobering to ignore.

Edited by Emery0323, 20 January 2013 - 00:42.


#27 GMACKIE

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 00:51

The way things are going, nearly everyone will be bankrupt before long........lawyers excepted. of course.

#28 john ruston

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:08

Probably Mr Piper thought it a good idea to get some exposure before he sold the car.

Mark Hales was unlucky that the car failed.

At that point Mr Piper expects the driver or his principle to cough up.

It's a business with him.If the deal was bend it/mend it Mark should have been OK.The car was not bent!

Was it a real 917 as 1.3 million doesn't seem much for a 917 with history.

Seem to remember a nice bloke crashed a Ford 3L at Spa and then had a huge bill. Never raced again!

#29 mfd

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:17

Was it a real 917 as 1.3 million doesn't seem much for a 917 with history.

It was the replica. It's now painted an orange red & white

#30 john aston

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 07:31

I don't think the court case does anything we should be concerned about- all it does is rightly highlight the need for clarity in who takes what risk when cars are loaned. It really is as simple as that- whilst many owners - perhaps Nick Mason would be a good example - are well enough off and magnaminous enough to adopt the 'my dear chap, don't worry about it ' stance when a car is damaged many others are not . I don't see why Piper should automatically have to foot the bill because it was his car; but equally why should Hales have to pay it because the temperamental brute broke in his hands ?What is required are clear and simple terms of loan , backed by insurance, job done.

#31 kayemod

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:02

I don't think the court case does anything we should be concerned about- all it does is rightly highlight the need for clarity in who takes what risk when cars are loaned. It really is as simple as that- whilst many owners - perhaps Nick Mason would be a good example - are well enough off and magnaminous enough to adopt the 'my dear chap, don't worry about it ' stance when a car is damaged many others are not . I don't see why Piper should automatically have to foot the bill because it was his car; but equally why should Hales have to pay it because the temperamental brute broke in his hands ?What is required are clear and simple terms of loan , backed by insurance, job done.


Well expressed, I think that says it all, but hard luck Mark all the same.


#32 Sharman

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:45

I don't think the court case does anything we should be concerned about- all it does is rightly highlight the need for clarity in who takes what risk when cars are loaned. It really is as simple as that- whilst many owners - perhaps Nick Mason would be a good example - are well enough off and magnaminous enough to adopt the 'my dear chap, don't worry about it ' stance when a car is damaged many others are not . I don't see why Piper should automatically have to foot the bill because it was his car; but equally why should Hales have to pay it because the temperamental brute broke in his hands ?What is required are clear and simple terms of loan , backed by insurance, job done.


John
You DON'T SEE, and you are a lawyer I think. This is always a problem for the layman, the judiciary acknowledge that the law is an ass, a little common sense is never allowed to prevail where a lawyer can make money or hide behind a law. A well known lawyer, who raced, stole money from me and passed it on to a third party, who he swore on oath, he had introduced to me. I'd never met him. The lawyer's son went to prison for other crimes in which the lawyer, to a layman, was obviously implicated because the son was too thick to have thought things out for himself, common sense said so. The third party in my case was protected by the Law Society under the Data Protection Act.
This little episode cost me my pension ergo NEVER ever regard things as clear & simple.

Edited by Sharman, 20 January 2013 - 11:46.


#33 ensign14

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 13:03

I'd like to see the written judgment in this case. Reading the bare facts alone raises a number of queries.

1. Insurance. Going down the thread I assumed this was a battle between insurers over responsibility. Then it seems Mark Hales is personally liable. That seems odd.

2. Vicarious liability. Would a freelancer get an indemnity - in advance - from the publisher who commissioned the story? There's a suggestion Octane made an offer to settle. They were therefore likely to be a party as well.

3. Costs. Costs in litigation must be proportionate. £65k costs over a £50k loss does not seem to be. I assume that David Piper's costs are to be assessed. I.e. a costs judge will look at them and see what was reasonable to spend. A trial judge can assess costs there and then, on a very rough and ready basis; if he has done that and given Piper £65k then that suggests to me Piper offered to accept less than £50k some time before trial. That gives the court discretion pretty much to knock nothing off. Or, the court felt that the defence pretty much forced Piper to spend that much.

4. Evidence. One man's word against another is no way to go to trial - far too risky. Remember if the court can't work out whom to believe the claim fails. Add to that an expert may have been able to examine forensically to suss out whether there was indeed a pre-existing gearbox problem.

5. What Piper had to prove. It would have been a high threshold. He would have had to show Hales went beyond what a reasonably competent professional driver would have done. And that he didn't simply make a slightly wrong decision in the heat of an oppressive moment.

#34 john aston

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 16:16

John
You DON'T SEE, and you are a lawyer I think. This is always a problem for the layman, the judiciary acknowledge that the law is an ass, a little common sense is never allowed to prevail where a lawyer can make money or hide behind a law. A well known lawyer, who raced, stole money from me and passed it on to a third party, who he swore on oath, he had introduced to me. I'd never met him. The lawyer's son went to prison for other crimes in which the lawyer, to a layman, was obviously implicated because the son was too thick to have thought things out for himself, common sense said so. The third party in my case was protected by the Law Society under the Data Protection Act.
This little episode cost me my pension ergo NEVER ever regard things as clear & simple.


My eyesight is pretty good actually .. I am guilty of being a retired lawyer but not guilty of the usual crimes aginst humanity which lawyers are expected to have on their conscience. The issue here was actually a lack of foresight by the people involved in deciding who was responsible for what.No consolation to poor Mr Hales now but if the two people involved had had some decent advice in the first place the court would not have been involved. Most law is not at all ass-like actually if you take the trouble to understand the principles involved.I am very sorry you had a bad experience with a lawyer but please do not tar us all with the same brush; some of us are really quite human. I say that without prejudice of course...

#35 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 16:44

In my mercifully minimal experience of litigation, other than as a witness, it is almost impossible to compress both sides of a court case into a news item, or Forum post, which covers every single aspect of the evidence.

This fact of life both protects a judgement, and opens it to uncomprehending puzzlement and criticism.

I doubt that what really happened here can be characterised as black and white. A perceived balance of grey will have swung the outcome.

One can still sympathise immensely with Mark, however...up to a point. Transportation for stealing a loaf springs to mind.

Plainly, a most unhappy affair - and what sounds like a grossly disproportionate outcome.

DCN

#36 Sharman

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 17:27

My eyesight is pretty good actually .. I am guilty of being a retired lawyer but not guilty of the usual crimes aginst humanity which lawyers are expected to have on their conscience. The issue here was actually a lack of foresight by the people involved in deciding who was responsible for what.No consolation to poor Mr Hales now but if the two people involved had had some decent advice in the first place the court would not have been involved. Most law is not at all ass-like actually if you take the trouble to understand the principles involved.I am very sorry you had a bad experience with a lawyer but please do not tar us all with the same brush; some of us are really quite human. I say that without prejudice of course...


John
The point I was endeavouring to make was that if YOU did not see, how can the layman, it was not that I was suggesting that you could not understand. Both "Pipes" and Mark Hales are laymen and are at the mercy of legal opinion, which, with the greatest respect to you, is usually that we can make a few bob out of this, rather like a divorce, neither party realise just how badly the other behaved until the lawyers point it out.

Edited by Sharman, 20 January 2013 - 17:28.


#37 David Birchall

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 19:45

As I said earlier, a $20 rev limiter would have saved all this.
Which is absolutely no help to Mr Hales I admit!

I will however suggest starting a fund to help him out. The running of which I will leave in its entirety to others! I will put up ten quid. Any others? :cat:

#38 seccotine

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 19:59

That is shocking.
(French, ex-lawyer.)

#39 Garsted

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 20:24


"Piper has since sold the car for £1.3million "

It's a cruel irony for Mr Hales that a 917 with a freshly rebuilt engine probably fetches substantially more (£50k more?) than with a well used engine. Insult to injury !

I would support an appeal.

Steve

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#40 LittleBertha

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 20:29

As I said earlier, a $20 rev limiter would have saved all this.
Which is absolutely no help to Mr Hales I admit!

I will however suggest starting a fund to help him out. The running of which I will leave in its entirety to others! I will put up ten quid. Any others? :cat:


Mark is as I said posting his thoughts on PH and this idea has also been mooted there - I would support as well.

Question is though what would it suit ..... fund an appeal or just mitigate the loss?

I have loaned my cars out to a number of magazines and to Triple Eight for Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi to test without any problems whatsoever. Mark himself was down to borrow my current car for Chummly but had to drop out late on. The only time I have ever been caught out was by an ageing racer mentioned above who managed in a lap and a half of Silv National for a BTCC demo to snap a halfshaft/ break the Salisbury/de-laminate the clutch/break the clutch actuator arm all by driving like a complete *@^*. The worst part however was that he then left it where it landed and whizzed off back to the BRDC without a word - he will never drive anything associated to me again.



#41 freedman

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 20:31

It was the replica. It's now painted an orange red & white


Slightly moot to the main discusion, but its not a 'replica'

It's built with part's accumulated by Piper over the years, then built up into a full car, much like the Vasek Polak 917/10

No its not a factory car, but its every bit a 'real' 917 and not a replica

Was shown by the new owner at Autosport International in its new red Salzburg colours I believe

#42 freedman

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 20:33

Porsche 917 and Cadwell Park ?! :confused:

That, in itself, is odd. Wonder where the Ferrari 512 was driven...?


Both at Cadwell





#43 MCS

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 21:38

Both at Cadwell


Both at Cadwell? I can only see the Porsche.

I was thinking about this earlier - following the early tests, nobody (in their right mind) took a 917 to a twisty circuit like the Nurburgring, Targa Floria, etc. It was always the 908.

This story is actually really odd - desperation from somebody, somewhere. No idea why.

(Edited to put the initial quote at the top)

Edited by MCS, 20 January 2013 - 21:42.


#44 LittleBertha

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 21:46

Both at Cadwell? I can only see the Porsche.


Once in YT look for the associated videos uploaded by that user name - there are 15 there inc Ferrari

#45 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 22:29

Both at Cadwell? I can only see the Porsche.

I was thinking about this earlier - following the early tests, nobody (in their right mind) took a 917 to a twisty circuit like the Nurburgring, Targa Floria, etc. It was always the 908.

This story is actually really odd - desperation from somebody, somewhere. No idea why.

(Edited to put the initial quote at the top)

From my memory,the works drivers did not want to drive the 917 after a few incidents, and preferred the 908. When Porsche transferred to 917 to Wyer, a lot of time was spent sorting out the aerodynamics. I think that there was a problem with front end lift.

#46 mfd

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 22:32

It's built with part's accumulated by Piper over the years, then built up into a full car, much like the Vasek Polak 917/10

You're wrong about this. Some of the parts are not as you describe - the frame was one of two built for him by another (not Porsche) for 7k in the 90's. The new owner already having the original LM winner, bought the Piper car to use.

Anyway OT, but my point was well intended

Edited by mfd, 20 January 2013 - 22:34.


#47 Paul Hamilton

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 22:36

[quote name='LittleBertha' date='Jan 21 2013, 07:29' post='6099252']
Mark is as I said posting his thoughts on PH and this idea has also been mooted there - I would support as well.

Question is though what would it suit ..... fund an appeal or just mitigate the loss?


How can one access the comments on 'PH' ? It is a forum I don't know about and there are many of us here in oz who would be interested in any support effort. Mark made many friends when he visited Sydney for our Tasman Revival meeting last November. He impressed us all as a very straight shooter and put in an impressive performance in a locally owned B16 Chevron which he treated with the ultimate of respect.

#48 bradbury west

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 23:19

From my memory,the works drivers did not want to drive the 917 after a few incidents, and preferred the 908. When Porsche transferred to 917 to Wyer, a lot of time was spent sorting out the aerodynamics. I think that there was a problem with front end lift.

Ironically, and from memory, I believe that Piper was the main force in the solution to the 917's aero problems, as he pointed out the very effective valley and rear spoiler setup on the rear deck and tail on his T70 Lola coupe, which apparently had a remakably beneficial effect on the 917.
Roger Lund

#49 LittleBertha

LittleBertha
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Posted 20 January 2013 - 23:24

Paul

Try PH 'You bend it, you mend it' in Google which should find the main topic

#50 Norman Jones

Norman Jones
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Posted 20 January 2013 - 23:49

Paul this should link to the PH thread

http://www.pistonhea...iper sues Hales

And if I have understood little bertha's comments another driver I have admired has gone down in my estimation