A disabled French driver was taken on a 200km/h white-knuckle ride by his "insane" Renault, as a quick shopping trip turned into a high-speed, 210 km jaunt to Belgium.
Frank Lecerf, 36, left Pont-de-Metz, close to Amiens, in his Renault Laguna 3 to hit the shops in nearby Dury. His route took in a short section of the A16 motorway, where he "set the speed regulator to 100km/h".
The car then picked up speed, hitting 160km/h as Lecerf thundered past Abbeville. With the satanic motor's stop/start button and brakes inoperative, he called the emergency services, but their advice, and that of a Renault technician, proved useless.
Rather, the car continued to accelerate to 200km/h. "I saw my life flash before my eyes," recounted Lecerf, who was by now escorted by gendarmes in a Renault Mégane. The convoy crossed the border into Belgium "at very high speed" at the Herquelingue toll east of Dunkerque, at which point the car's victim decided he'd had enough.
"I just wanted it to end," he said.
He later elaborated in a radio interview:
"I had a full tank, it could have kept going for a long time. I didn't want to continue till I reached Holland."
Lecerf terminated his unplanned road trip by driving the car off the motorway close to Alveringem, where emergency services were waiting for him, although the details are hazy. He remembers being in the car and then waking up in hospital.
According to the Renault's shaken victim, this wasn't the first time his car had gone crazy. A previous incident on the A1 motorway north-east of Paris had similarly required an escort of gendarmes, but the vehicle's manufacturer was unconvinced by Lecerf's tales of terror. He explained:
"I've taken the car to Renault twice. They've kept it a couple of days, but they've handed it back saying there's no problem. They didn't take me seriously."
This time, Lecerf is determined get satisfaction. His lawyer said he's filed suit for "endangerment of life".
In 2005, a locked speed regulator treated a fellow Renault Laguna owner to a 40km burn-up at 200km/h, during which he "could neither brake, decelerate nor use the clutch". ®
Our source for the above is this report in the Courrier Picard, plus the linked radio interview. English-language reports say toll gates were raised to allow Lecerf to pass, and that he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol.
Merci beaucoup to fellow Vulture Central hack Anna Leach for providing vital French interpretation support for this automotive tale of woe.
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