David Piper sues for blown-up Porsche 917 Engine

The Daily Telegraph reports on the ongoing lawsuit between former Porsche factory driver, David Piper and UK motoring journalist, Mark Hales. Pics below shared under copyright fair use.

You probably remember the articles that came from this track jaunt, featuring Piper’s 917 (one of two owned by David) and a Ferrari 512. Porsche World ran it, as did some other mags – including Octane I think. I also seem to remember a bit of journo gossip about a supposed exclusive that never happened and a bit of bad blood afterwards, but I might be mixing this up with something else.

Anyway, while Hales was on track in the Porsche 917, the engine failed. Piper is seeking £50k for the cost of repairs, which he says were required after the engine was over-revved to 8,200 rpm following a mis-shift by the driver. Hales agrees that the over-rev was the cause of a £40k repair bill, but contends that the incident was caused by “an inherent and pre-existing mechanical fault in the gear box so that the gears didn’t properly lock and engage and slipped out of gear.”

The 917 was taken on track a number of times during the day’s shooting. The problem occurred towards the end of the day, and which of us has not seen that happen on track days: one last lap is the one that claims you.

Though Piper sold the car last year, the lawsuit continues. Both sides have barristers and solicitors on the case, so God only knows what this will cost. The last High Court case I was involved with as an expert witness had £75K of costs on one side before settling out of court with no money changing hands. The whole story is a shame: two talented drivers with a beautiful Porsche in the middle. But: you bend it, you mend it.

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  1. says: Charles

    From John Wyer’s book ‘The Certain Sound’ : “The rev limiters were usually set at this speed (8,800rpm) but were not completely reliable and if the drivers missed a gear [it] did not act quickly enough to prevent damage. The trouble was that at 9,200rpm the valves touched the pistons which almost invariably resulted in a broken camshaft and a blown engine. We lost several engines as a result”.

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