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Piper v. Hales


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#51 Fivestripes

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 00:00

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)

Quick vic drove a lap of the targa in a 917...........

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#52 Gregor Marshall

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 00:58

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.


As you now well know that particular person has a well known lack of mechanical sympathy for other people's cars but he tries his best.
Knowing both parties in this, I feel incredibly frustrated it has got to this stage. I was very lucky to have driven one of my late fathers cars at the FoS last year and had an argument with one of the mechanics for turning the engine off during parc ferme as I could see the heat building and the idle trebling; a very specialist engine waiting in the paddock doesn't do well (Goodwood really needs to change that) but there was no way I could afford a £50k rebuild. I'm not saying the owner would ask me but still down to my responsibility.

#53 johnwilliamdavies

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 17:22

If anyone is interested, the judgement is here.

#54 ensign14

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 17:49

OK, so important points include:

-Mark Hales hired the 917 rep himself, not through his company;

-Octane Media Ltd would provide insurance;

-Hales thought the insurance would not cover mechanical problems;

-Piper told him not to rev over 7,000 (and Hales accepts this);

-the insurers avoided paying out because over-revving damage was excluded from the policy;

-Hales' evidence that Piper agreed, before the hire, not to hold him liable for engine damage was not mentioned in Hales' witness statement - so seems to have been made later;

-the same gearbox does not seem to have had any jumping out problems before or after the incident;

-Richard Attwood confirmed he could use 3rd gear no problem the month before - contradicting Hales' story that 3rd was blocked off.

But the absolute killer is that in June 2009 Hales conceded that he made a mistake and did not choose the correct gear. Once he moved away from that, his credibility is shot. In a conflict of evidence later a judge is going to bear in mind that, at the time, Hales thought he messed up. Hales did not come up with his hypothesis until much nearer the trial, and made no attempt to get the gearbox examined by an expert.

There is one curious error though; the amount of damages shifts from euro to £ without any explanation. Could be a typo but it seems to bugger up the calculations.

So, everyone should check their insurance policies...

#55 kayemod

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 17:52

If anyone is interested, the judgement is here.


That's really interesting, it seems to be fairly conclusive and makes a lot more sense of the whole affair, on the facts set out in this judgement, it's difficult to see what grounds could exist for an appeal. On an admittedly trivial note, I was a little surprised to see Nick Mason described as "A pop musician", any Floyd fan would be appalled by that.

#56 Tony Matthews

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 18:04

"There was no fault apparent with the car before this incident, and I admit
the damage to the engine was caused by my failure to select the gear
correctly”.


Game over.

#57 freedman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 18:06

So Piper not the devil he has been painted as and Hales similarly not the saint

#58 john aston

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 18:26

As I pointed out on PH forum -under a nom de net-I do not want to sling mud at either driver, both of whom I have enjoyed watching race for many years. I feel immensely sorry for MH but that doesn't mean it is right to demonise DP or the Court.I do hope that some help is provided to MH- nobody should lose their home because of an incident like this.Whilst I doubt if the PH appeal(to help MH ) will have legs maybe some well heeled historic racer might want to help out ?

#59 MCS

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 18:27

If anyone is interested, the judgement is here.


Aside from the poor English and atrocious grammar, this is still very strange.

I have only read it once, but there are some immediately obvious anomalies e.g. "Under cross-examination, Mr Webb also gave evidence that the Car was raced after the incident (without any repairs in the meantime to the gearbox) without difficulty." - in which case why was there a High Court hearing?

Were Richard Peacock and Charles Knill-Jones witnesses - one presumes so, but for who? It would appear that neither of them thought that driver error was a cause.

Odd. Very odd.


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#60 Mistron

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 19:15

I see Mr Piper used Wilmott and Co as his solicitors, as used by Stanley Mann on his recent trip to the courts.

#61 freedman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 19:20

Aside from the poor English and atrocious grammar, this is still very strange.

I have only read it once, but there are some immediately obvious anomalies e.g. "Under cross-examination, Mr Webb also gave evidence that the Car was raced after the incident (without any repairs in the meantime to the gearbox) without difficulty." - in which case why was there a High Court hearing?

Were Richard Peacock and Charles Knill-Jones witnesses - one presumes so, but for who? It would appear that neither of them thought that driver error was a cause.

Odd. Very odd.


Raced wthout repair to the gearbox, not the engine

Odd? there is written evidence from Hales to his insurers admitting the failure was his fault

Difficult to get past that in law I think

#62 MCS

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 19:47

Raced wthout repair to the gearbox, not the engine

Odd? there is written evidence from Hales to his insurers admitting the failure was his fault

Difficult to get past that in law I think


Fair points, all. I had read it once, quickly.

Having now read it again...


#63 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 22:54

It seems to me that the high level of costs should have been avoided if Hales had admitted some kind of liability before it got there...

Tough going all round.

#64 GMACKIE

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 23:28

Apart from the engine re-build, there has been a lot of money wasted. :rolleyes:

Edited by GMACKIE, 22 January 2013 - 05:01.


#65 cdrewett

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:51

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


Things may be different today, but I was warned that the rev limiter fitted to my March 782-BMW only worked when the engine was under load.
Chris

#66 LittleBertha

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:22

Without wishing to trigger a discussion about rights and wrongs - that's been done elsewhere ......anyone wishing to support MH can do so by sending money via PayPal to here: appeal@trackdriver.com

#67 Phil Rainford

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:44

View of " Motor Sport "

http://www.motorspor...-in-piper-case/


PAR

#68 markpde

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 15:34

View of " Motor Sport "

http://www.motorspor...-in-piper-case/


PAR

Makes you wonder, why did Mark Hales agree to the 'you bend it, you mend it' arrangement (if indeed he did), verbal or otherwise? Given the inevitable cost of an engine failure, for whatever reason, circumstantially it's hard to believe that he would have taken the risk - he could never even have begun to afford it. Doesn't sound right to me.

Incidentally, this is not a rude question because 'Pipes' has always (at least up until now) been one of my heroes, but how does the old boy make his money (and don't say by suing poor hapless motoring journalists (anyway, he's not making money in this case, just covering his costs))?

#69 john aston

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 15:51

As I said earlier I don't think the case means a great deal outside its own context. The court found that MH was liable and the view of some barristers who have read the judgment(some very sensible posts on PH aside from the usual adolescent ranting ) is that on the facts it was correct.Now there may be all sorts of discussions about the morality of DP going to court but that was his call. Not everybody would do so but if they do the matter is for the court to decide. It should be a last resort, and I am sure it was here.. The judgment does not mean that everybody who has a car fail on them has to pay- far from it. But it highlights an issue which as a former lawyer I am amazed that people did not cover properly- and that is if one hires a car to race or to test for an article there needs to be concensus and clarity of responsibility for forseeable risks- 'what ifs' .Such as- you crash it, it breaks , you break the gearbox, somebody crashes into you etc. Those risks do not need a lawyer to identify- comonsense is all that is needed. And if one can cover the risk by insuring then even better. But the key point is that if you choose to ignore them , if you think it's all legal guff ,if you think 'if you bend it you mend' it is a legal principle rather than a snappy phrase which is only half right these problems will come to light when the risk happens and both sides think it's the other's responsibility . The law did not intervene - it had no right to- but one of the parties went to law because he did not agree with the other guy. e the only effect will be to get people like Mr Frankel and the owners of racing cars to arrive at an agreement as to what happens if things go wrong. No need for a lengthy legalistic contract - maybe the magazines could get together and even arrive at some common approach with insurance cover where possible and eyes open acceptance of risk where not.

The above possibly shows why I was a lawyer and not a GP star but I really do not think the case does anything much more than highlight what can happen when things go wrong . Oh and the vilification of either party is quite wrong I feel-why should DP blithely forget the small matter of 50k - but equally why should MH be so out of pocket....

#70 markpde

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 16:26

This is interesting, and relevant. Just dug out my copy of John Wyer's autobiography, 'The Certain Sound'. He says that mechanically the 917 had an Achilles heel, in fact it had two: the engine valve gear, and the clutch bodies in the synchromesh.

Peak engine power was developed at 8,400 rpm, and JW-Gulf set the rev-limiters to 8,700/8,800. Wyer says, however, that the rev-limiters were not completely reliable and did not act quickly enough to prevent engine damage if a driver missed a gear. At 9,200 rpm the valves touched the pistons, which usually resulted in a broken camshaft and a blown engine. He says they lost several engines that way.
After Pedro Rodriguez blew an engine by missing a gear in the 1970 Can-Am race at Watkins Glen in 1970, the day after winning the 6-Hour Race in the same 917, John Wyer discussed the problem with an engineer he'd know from his days dealing with Ford Engineering Research, Bob Corn. Corn had spent two years of his life just studying valve gear, and thought the 917's problem was 'ridiculous'. Given the relevant information he said he could easily design a valve spring which would give an adequate margin of safety. Wyer offered this solution to Ferdinand Piech but was rebuffed - what Wyer called a typical Porsche reaction to N.I.H. (Not Invented Here)...

Curiously, the 917's other Achilles heel might even be why Mark Hales had difficulty selecting 3rd gear in the incident which blew Piper's engine. Wyer goes on to explain that, in the gearbox, the synchronizing clutch bodies were threaded into the freewheel running gear with regular right-hand threads, and on half of them, depending on the direction of rotation, it was possible for the sychronising torque to unscrew the clutch body and block the gearbox. This is what caused Pedro's gearbox to have to be rebuilt at Daytona in '71, although he still won the race, but it's also what caused the Attwood/Muller 917K to lose Le Mans that year, although it still finished second. John Horsman had proposed to Porsche that the threads should be 'sided', depending on their position on the shaft, so that in all cases they would tighten and not loosen (like the bottom bracket and pedal threads on a bicycle), but again this was rejected (another case of N.I.H.). After Daytona '71, the threads were assembled by Porsche with Loctite and peened over, but this still wasn't enough to prevent the same thing happening to Muller at Le Mans.

Makes you think, the above might have helped Mark Hales in the court case, if only to prove that these were intrinsic problems with the 917 and not just due to driver error. For anyone who has the book (I'm skint, and my dog-eared copy is probably worth more than me right now, although I wouldn't part with it), the above info starts on page 245.

#71 backfire

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 17:48

That's exactly what I was saying in my earlier post. I am surprised that MH's legal team did not bring this up as it could have been argued that DP was negligent in allowing the car to be run with the engine in a fragile state. Why wasn't DP asked how many hours were on the engine? The bill for the repair would surely equate to a routine rebuild, or thereabouts. Relying on the gearbox argument seems to have been MH's undoing.

#72 RTH

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 17:54

The moral of this story now can only be don't be tempted to drive anyone else's car.

#73 ensign14

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 18:53

View of " Motor Sport "

http://www.motorspor...-in-piper-case/

It's a poor article, I'm afraid. It's an opinion piece pure. Andrew Frankel is surely in the position to be able to do some journalistic investigation and get Piper's side of the story - indeed maybe he or someone else could have popped along to the trial to listen in, they are all public after all. Then maybe he could have come to an informed conclusion.

#74 john aston

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 19:43

The court heard both sides of the story and came to its judgment on the facts.By all means take a view on whether DP should have bothered to make the claim etc - which is the moral issue - but I don't doubt that expert witnesses were used.and the process was correct . It may be that DP could afford better witnesses - but that's just speculation on my part. I don't need Andrew Frankel's insight on what he thinks should have been the right moral outcome, and to be fair I don't think he is offering one. 917 foibles are largely irrelevant- if fascinating- and the only issue was one of respective responsibility . Anyway I am doing a stuck record so I shall shut up.

#75 MCS

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 20:00

I have just read elsewhere (on another Forum) that Hales had paid a £2,000 "bailout fee" ahead of the test. Really?

Seems to be an increasing amount of conjecture. ensign14 makes a good point: why on earth didn't somebody from the motor racing press attend the trial?

#76 ensign14

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 20:50

This is interesting, and relevant. Just dug out my copy of John Wyer's autobiography, 'The Certain Sound'. He says that mechanically the 917 had an Achilles heel, in fact it had two: the engine valve gear, and the clutch bodies in the synchromesh.

Makes you think, the above might have helped Mark Hales in the court case, if only to prove that these were intrinsic problems with the 917 and not just due to driver error. For anyone who has the book (I'm skint, and my dog-eared copy is probably worth more than me right now, although I wouldn't part with it), the above info starts on page 245.

No - Piper asked Hales not to go over 7,000 revs because of the dodgy syncromesh. It's mentioned in the judgment so, as a factor, it was taken into account. Plus Hales told Piper he had insurance; no wonder Piper went after the insurer first.

#77 David Birchall

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 23:10

Things may be different today, but I was warned that the rev limiter fitted to my March 782-BMW only worked when the engine was under load.
Chris


Most rev limiters are purely rpm activated. Having one fitted to this 917 would have saved a lot of money and anguish - third mention I know...

I am going to suggest to Twinny that he post a sticky with the email address for donations to the fund for Mark Hales. We can all opinionate and gesticulate but at this juncture money is all that will help. :well:

#78 mfd

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 00:21

-Richard Attwood confirmed he could use 3rd gear no problem the month before - contradicting Hales' story that 3rd was blocked off.
-the same gearbox does not seem to have had any jumping out problems before or after the incident;


So the gearbox was OK when the car ran at Goodwood before the Cadwell outing & Gearbox OK when it was run again afterwards.
Surely the post Cadwell run wouldn't have helped its condition & my point being, the engine was damaged?

#79 David Birchall

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:05

Well, Twinny has declined my request to post a sticky.

Link to fund-paypal:

appeal@trackdriver.com

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#80 GMACKIE

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:39

Perhaps it just me, but I cannot get my head around why it costs 2 or 3 time as much to find out who's fault it was.....than to rebuild a broken engine. :confused:

#81 kayemod

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:27

Perhaps it just me, but I cannot get my head around why it costs 2 or 3 time as much to find out who's fault it was...


So, I take it you've never been through a divorce?


#82 GMACKIE

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:07

So, I take it you've never been through a divorce?

Good guess. :clap:


#83 Catalina Park

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:18

Why is divorce expensive?

Because it is worth it. :drunk:

#84 Peter Morley

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 09:31

So the gearbox was OK when the car ran at Goodwood before the Cadwell outing & Gearbox OK when it was run again afterwards.
Surely the post Cadwell run wouldn't have helped its condition & my point being, the engine was damaged?


Given that 50 grand doesn't cover the cost of a 4-cam 356 engine rebuild there can't have been much damage to the 917 engine.
Chances are 50 grand was the cost of stripping and re-assembling an engine that wasn't damaged.

8,200 is far lower than the original rev-limit (beyond which they were notorious for exploding) and should not have damaged an engine that was in good condition anyway.

#85 ensign14

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:29

So the gearbox was OK when the car ran at Goodwood before the Cadwell outing & Gearbox OK when it was run again afterwards.
Surely the post Cadwell run wouldn't have helped its condition & my point being, the engine was damaged?

There are 2 points as I see it. One goes to witness credibility. Hales said that he spoke to Piper's mechanic, who said 3rd gear was blocked off for Piper's use and he should go from 2nd to 4th. Attwood said that he drove it before and used 3rd with no problem. So the judge did not prefer Hales' evidence on that conversation to the mechanic's because Hales' account contained a factual discrepancy with a neutral witness.

The second is that the judgment does not state when the post-Cadwell run took place - it could have been after the engine repair. But at the time of the engine repair the gearbox was not looked at.

#86 backfire

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:33

Peter, my point exactly (post 71). I still think the judgement seems harsh & the judge's opinion of the validity of MH's evidence seems to be based on giving a simple explanation to the insurance company and a more complex one to the court. He did not deny that he missed a gear in either case, but elaborates reasons inc. speculation to a fault that wasn't told to the insurers. The defence was flawed and the judge destroyed him - I still contend that he did not act negligently and the verdict questionable. I was disappointed at the sudden change of heart of some of the posters on the PH forum after the full judgement was published.

#87 Sharman

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:47

Perhaps it just me, but I cannot get my head around why it costs 2 or 3 time as much to find out who's fault it was.....than to rebuild a broken engine. :confused:


See my earlier posts!! Pace John Aston and Ensign

Edited by Sharman, 23 January 2013 - 11:50.


#88 mfd

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:11

There are 2 points as I see it. One goes to witness credibility. Hales said that he spoke to Piper's mechanic, who said 3rd gear was blocked off for Piper's use and he should go from 2nd to 4th. Attwood said that he drove it before and used 3rd with no problem. So the judge did not prefer Hales' evidence on that conversation to the mechanic's because Hales' account contained a factual discrepancy with a neutral witness.

The second is that the judgment does not state when the post-Cadwell run took place - it could have been after the engine repair. But at the time of the engine repair the gearbox was not looked at.

Would I be correct in thinking the judgement covers certain points but not necessarily everything discussed in court? As an example the Piper side obviously pushed the historic point about missed changes in period by Siffert et al, inferring that if notable "famous" drivers can make mistakes...& this obviously registered with the judge, otherwise it wouldn't have been mentioned in the judgement. Yet, as pointed out, there's the printed words of the John Wyer in "That Certain Sound" referring to the inherant faults in the 917 gearbox. It makes me think perhaps a defence along those lines, citing historic reference wasn't considered worthy by Hales. However, I wasn't there, so it's only supposition

Edited by mfd, 24 January 2013 - 16:27.


#89 ensign14

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:42

I'm assuming Hales raised the historic problem point to say that the best drivers had problems with gear-shifting, therefore, if he had problems with gear-shifting, that meant the claim could not succeed.

It works legally like this:

-to prove negligence you have to show various things;

-one of them is that the defendant's behaviour was below the appropriate standard;

-driving a 917 means the appropriate standard is that of a competent professional racing driver;

-Siffert et al were competent professionals;

-they couldn't get the gears to engage all the time;

-therefore a missed gear is still within the standard of a competent professional.

The problem is that the judgment suggests Hales missed a gear when the revs were below where there should have been a syncro problem. Which means that a competent professional would not have made that mistake and Hales' driving fell below that.

#90 mfd

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 13:49

The problem is that the judgment suggests Hales missed a gear when the revs were below where there should have been a syncro problem. Which means that a competent professional would not have made that mistake and Hales' driving fell below that.


Thanks, so the only counter argument could have been "the equipment wasn't in good in order" despite the well documented historical problem with a 917 gearbox, the decision should have been to walk away or take this into account & not make an error.

#91 ensign14

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 14:10

Yes. And the problem with pushing the argument that the equipment was not in good order is that Hales did not produce any evidence of this. The judge made the comment that Hales said it could be inspected and shown, which begged the question why he had not asked to inspect. Piper at least had the evidence that the gearbox had been fine before and after; I'm guessing Hales' argument on the point did not come until late on in proceedings.

#92 kayemod

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 16:38

And this is the Daily Mail version of the unhappy tale, sadly one-sided, as they only appear to have spoken to Mark Hales about it.

http://www.dailymail...-road-test.html

I think we're all surprised to learn that a couple of not very distinguished races in a privately entered Lotus 16 makes David Piper an "An ex Team Lotus Formula One" driver, not that DP would ever have claimed anything of the sort of course, that just shows very lazy fact checking by this excuse for a newspaper, they clearly didn't contact anyone on Piper's side for his version of events.

It's a very sad outcome for Mark Hales of course, but it's hard to have too much sympathy for him given the facts that have emerged, and the way all this seems to be developing.

#93 JtP1

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 17:50

Trying to follow the full threads of this post leads me to beg the question. Where round Cadwell park is a 917 going to use above 3rd gear with anything near a normal fd for the car and thus why would 3rd gear be blocked off? So how would you over rev the engine by selecting the wrong gear? IE, missing 3rd and getting 5th. So was the engine over revved by selecting neutral?

#94 Tony Matthews

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:25

I posted this earlier - it is a direct quote from the summimg up, item 38(f).

The Defendant himself composed a signed and dated (3 June 2009) detailed
note for Octane’s insurers relatively shortly after the incident. This included
the frank admission that:

"There was no fault apparent with the car before this incident, and I admit
the damage to the engine was caused by my failure to select the gear
correctly”.


Isn't that all anyone needs to know?

#95 MCS

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:42

I posted this earlier - it is a direct quote from the summimg up, item 38(f).

The Defendant himself composed a signed and dated (3 June 2009) detailed
note for Octane’s insurers relatively shortly after the incident. This included
the frank admission that:

"There was no fault apparent with the car before this incident, and I admit
the damage to the engine was caused by my failure to select the gear
correctly”.


Isn't that all anyone needs to know?


Yikes, what a statement.

I would still like to see a full transcript of what was said in the court case. We really only have one view so far.

Edited by MCS, 25 January 2013 - 09:46.


#96 David Birchall

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:43

Trying to follow the full threads of this post leads me to beg the question. Where round Cadwell park is a 917 going to use above 3rd gear with anything near a normal fd for the car and thus why would 3rd gear be blocked off? So how would you over rev the engine by selecting the wrong gear? IE, missing 3rd and getting 5th. So was the engine over revved by selecting neutral?


Apparently the gear did not engage fully and was "spat out" to use an Americanism resulting in no load on the engine and instant over rev. This may have been due to the inherent weakness of the synchromesh type that is used in this box. See reference to John Wyer's comments in his book above.

Edited by David Birchall, 23 January 2013 - 18:45.


#97 Doug Nye

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 18:49

I would still like to see a full transcript of what was said in the court case. We really only have one view so far.


The Judge's view is the one that matters.

DCN

#98 RobertE

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 19:05

The Judge's view is the one that matters.

DCN


Quite...


#99 LittleBertha

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 19:18

Quite...


In the case of Mann v Brewer it was the CoA that ultimately ruled.

cannot see an appeal in this case however as the insurance statement will always remain pivotal.

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#100 hipperson

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 20:10

Here we go..full transcript.

Good luck !


http://www.leeds-sol...s.com/news.html