Motoring journalist sued after £1.25 million Porsche engine explodes during test driveSWNS

Former Formula One driver David Piper is suing motoring journalist Mark Hales after his treasured Porsche 917's engine exploded during a track session.

Hales, who is an experienced racing driver and freelance writer, was piloting the rare Porsche around Cadwell Park race circuit in 2009 when the engine of the £1.25 million vintage 917 failed catastrophically.

Owner David Piper claims the damage was caused by Mr Hales failing to engage the right gear and "over-revving" the engine and wants him to pay for the repairs the car needed.

He told London's High Court, "If you bend it, you mend it." The 82-year-old, who resides in Surrey, is seeking around £50,000 for the cost of fixing the engine, which had to be shipped to Germany for specialist repair and the "loss of use" he endured while the car was out of action.

Motoring journalist sued after £1.25 million Porsche engine explodes during test driveEx-Formula One driver David Piper, left and motoring journalist Mark Hales, Right. Credit: SWNS

Mark Hales denies any liability to pay and contends that a "mechanical failure" caused the car to slip out of gear.

The court heard he paid Mr Piper a "bail fee" of £2,000 to use the 917 and took it around the course several times without incident. But, as he completed a lap of the track, the engine blew up - causing devastating damage, which cost nearly £40,000 to repair.

The stunning 917 was immortalised by actor Steve McQueen when it featured heavily in the 1971 film, Le Mans and celebrity Porsche collector Jerry Seinfeld has one of only a few 917s in existence.

According to SWNS, Judge Simon Brown QC sided with Mr Piper and awarded full damages along with £63,000 costs – leaving Mr Hales with a total bill of £111,000.

Yesterday Mr Hales said he was "devastated" by the findings and now faces bankruptcy.