SA's premium automotive magazine

Journalist faces R1,7m bill

2009 Goodwood Festival Media Day

Mark Hales, a racing driver and motoring journalist, is faced with a R1,7-million bill after he accidentally blew up the engine of a replica Porsche 917 belonging to racing legend David Piper. Hales was sued by Piper after the incident and the judge in the high court found that  he had overrevved the engine, which is what caused its failure.

The car has since been repaired and sold for almost R20 million. There was a verbal agreement in place between Hales and Piper, and part of that agreement was that the 917 would not be taken beyond 7 000 r/min, and that should the car be damaged, it would have to be paid for.

The controversial case also has a major affect on the motoring journalism industry as a whole, as many journalists may be less keen to test rare machinery, especially given how rare it is that such cars are covered by insurance. The financial risk of something going wrong will no doubt have a profound affect on journalists’ desires to test these sorts of cars.

Hales now finds himself in financial dire straits, but a fund has been set up to contribute to Hales legal costs. Should you be interested in donating, visit Good to know that despite the dramatic outcome, a sense of humour has been retained by Hales in his website’s name.

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