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Ultimate Nürburgring Rental Toy?


Mook
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Having been round the 'Ring in an M3 Taxi more times than I really should have been, it's pretty hard to ignore the M3's capabilities. Even four up coming screaming into Wehrseifen onto a four car pile-up, in the damp, the ability to brake stupidly hard, control the car and steer around the carnage was surreal. Yes, the driver (traffic policeman in his day-job) had a huge amount to do with it, but the car was brilliant to be in on non-showboat laps.

Rent4Ring.de have been around a few years now and I've used them a few times - one of the things they do is choose unusual toys which are bloody good on track. They're all set up for the track (specifically the Nürburgring Nordschleife) with various stages of suspension and performance tuning. List of cars for 2013 is here.

They've got a couple of Artegas, mid-engined VW 3.6 V6 powered toys which are quick, but a bit lacking and, dare I say it, a bit too Audi (not very surprising, really, given their underpinnings).

Problem is, they've now just invested in an E92 M3 and given it to RS-Raceline, so it's 450bhp, has a full Bistein set-up and it's properly stripped. OK, so it's not cheap and 1,599 Euros for a full day (excluding laps) compared to 399 Euros for a full day in one of their brilliant Stage 2 Swifts, but holy crap, it's soooo got to be done... :)

rsm3.jpg

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Wonder what the insurance excess is!

Funny enough, Chris Harris just did a blog post which mentioned how much he pays:

Last year I drove a NobleM600 and an Ariel Atom at the Nurburgring. Covering the Noble alone cost £1,500, and that was with a generous discount. That covered £150K, with a maximum payout of £130K and a £20K excess. The Atom was insured for less, but still carried a £7.5K excess and a £540 premium.

But the cars were not adequately covered, were they? It's pretty easy to do £20K of damage to a Noble M600, and that was the excess, so what would have happened if I had ended up owing either Noble or the insurance company that sum of money? I'd have had to pay it.

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The Judgement is here: Piper v Hales judgment

Accordingly, I find the Defendant to be liable to the Claimant: he failed to properly engage gear having been expressly told to do so and specifically warned about the risk of serious damage to the Car if this was not done. His level of driving – on this particular occasion – fell below the standard of care, albeit high, required of him.
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Have to say, the judgement looks perfectly sound. Routine, even. Hales put forward a defence that the car had a defect but offered no evidence to support that. He let the car go for repair without having inspected it, then later claimed here were some wrong parts in he gearbox. That's not terribly credible. Worse, he signed an admission for the abortive insurance claim that says he broke it, then tried to say that was a fib to claim on the insurance - i.e. fraud. Nt a great way to endear yourself to a Judge.

All the media reports are sympathetic to Hales, but that's to be expected when he judgement says that they are liable too if they cock up, and that there isn't a magic gentleman's agreement that says they can borrow someone's valuable car to make money out of it and then walk away if it blows up, leaving the bill on the owner's lap but keeping their fee for the story.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sympathetic to Hales as well - in that he's a good driver and he writes well. I like his articles and have found many of them useful. This must have come as a huge shock, and the implications for him personally are not nice. But I think the judgement was right.

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Probably wouldn't have helped, as he personally was the driver. Therefore he (personally) had a duty of care to the owner of the car, and was directly liable in negligence for the damage caused. Putting it through the company might have moved the contractual liability (under the contract of hire) away from him, but not the negligence.

Also, if the company had been found liable then it would have had to have been wound up, at which point the liquidator would have taken control of the company and might have decided to look at suing him personally in order to raise funds to help clear the company's debt to the car's owner.

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I'd like to think that if I was in Piper's position I'd not have taken Hales to court over this. My thinking is that the repair to the engine amounts to betterment and combined with the coverage in the magazine the resulting uplift in the sales price (which was partly the reason for the reduced hire price due to the conferred benefit on Piper's sale of the car) would more than cover the rebuild costs.

However, Piper has always said "you bend it you mend it" so there is a point of principle especially as he makes a good living from the hire of his cars.

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It's difficult. If I was the owner and I thought that the car had just expired while Hales happened to be at the wheel, then yes I'd let it go too. But Piper clearly thought that the car was fine and that Hales had made the very mistake he was warned not to make. If Hales had stuffed it into a barrier then I think we'd all agree that Hales should have to put it right... the only difference being that he would have been insured for that. So it comes down to the distinction between Hales' error and natural wear & tear... for which all the credible evidence set out by the Judge pointed at Hales, sadly.

I've always worked on the assumption that cars are lent to me on the basis that I'll put right anything I am stupid enough to break but that wear & tear, stone chips, etc are just one of those things and not my problem. And when the owner gives you keys while saying "Your insurance covers this, right?", it kind of reinforces that!

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I wonder if they ever discussed the issue over a pint - or did they do the argy bargy and threats of court action from the very start.

Surely the gentleman's way would be some sort of 50/50 on the grounds that Piper would be getting a rebuild (which may well have been necessary, but at the very least would be desirable), and would have saved £63,000 in legal costs and the extra £13,000 that Piper claimed (presumably because Hales had pissed him off).

I totally agree with the legality issues and with the outcome, given the circumstances, as if the reports of Hales' performance in court is anything to go by, he was on a hiding to nothing in letting it go there.

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