The SLR is the most reliable supercar, but this time it wasn't...
Unlike last year with the Murci, we took an honourable part in this year’s Premium Rally, meaning we didn’t go all the way to Hungaroring for the track challenge. We did the challenges within Bulgaria and we participated in the largest auto-moto fests: Sofia Moto Fest and The Festival of Speed.
DCs for Ken 🖤
My last visit to the Bulgarian seaside was in 2012. Therefore I decided to book a short vacation before the rally in Sveti Vlas (also the official start location of the rally).
As we were heading to Varna to meet friends first, I remembered why I dislike traveling to the seaside during summer - it’s just too busy. It’s not the most enjoyable road trip you can take.
This is the thing about the SLR - it looks undeniably better in silver. People recognise it quicker, it just looks more … hypercar-ish and menacing. The Paris’ SLR is in “crystal palladium grey” - only 28 SLRs are in this color. I call it simply graphite. It still looks great, but it lacks that immediate x-factor, which leads to less recognition and respect when it comes to overtaking someone. And we had to overtake hundreds of times to Varna.
We’re so used to treating the SLR like any other car, but our friends aren’t. They gave us a Tesla Model 3 for the duration of our stay in Varna, so that the SLR can stay safe and sound where it was parked. Here comes the confession: I did drive the Tesla and I did like it. I would never own one, but since this was my very first time driving one, I was impressed by the handling. Of course the range anxiety started the second I got to hold the key card. I have no idea how people do this to themselves - yet another thing to charge. I could never. We had a fun day in Varna, but it was time to head to Sveti Vlas.
So far so good, we arrived at the hotel in Sveti Vlas. If you’ve never taken part in a rally, you should know you sign a contract and the organisers stick dozens of PR stickers to your car. It’s nonnegotiable. Perfect timing to get even more disappointed in the “100-hour detailing job” that was done on the SLR (Ed is talking about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTyfwwkKfCM ). Another post is coming only about how bad it really is.
Back at it - while we were having dinner, the SLR was getting stickers all over it. And since we were the first to arrive, the SLR was alone and I got to take photos of people taking photos with the SLR. This is probably one of my favourite moments of taking this car out - other people enjoying it and wanting to memorise the moment with a photo.
The next two days were chill, more rally participants began to arrive and we finally got to see more of the cars. There were a couple of thunderstorms, during which we all just had that straight face and we were all praying for it not to turn into a hailstorm. I had a plan B in case it did, which included me running with the duvet from the hotel room to cover the SLR. Luckily, mother nature decided not to ruin cars for millions, at least not today.
On the first day of the rally the weather was more favourable, but my health wasn’t. I guess I got a food poisoning from the previous day and woke up with Dehli belly. My first thought was “I’m gonna shit myself inside Paris Hilton’s SLR 💀 ”. We ran to the nearest pharmacy and I took pills. On the packaging it said “For emergencies - take 3”. I took 6 to be safe. My Dehli belly was gone in 1 hour.
Britney, you still got this one! 😅
The start of the rally was scheduled at 12:00, but don’t imagine an F1 type of a start, where we race. No, it’s more of a parade start. Each car and team gets to be presented to the audience and when you see your national flag being waved, that’s when you floor it. You’re allowed to entertain the audience before you start, though, which includes burnouts, revving up the engine and if you have non-standard doors - you open them.
We began to head towards the cars around 11am, because we had to line them all up.
And that’s when our luck ran out. The AC didn’t work. It was 26 degrees already. We tried everything, literally and … nothing. We had no AC, officially. That’s when I started to experience flashbacks of Ed’s GoldRush video. The history was repeating itself, but how was that possible?! We ran to the organisers to ask for an emergency contact of someone with diagnostics. Apparently there was a Lambo with a check engine light on already and a guy with the diagnostics was on his way. Even when we don’t have luck, we still have it.
So, the rally started and it’s us and the guy with the Lambo left from our row. We told him we’ve been driving a Murcielago with a check engine light on for a year now and there’s nothing to worry about. We even joked that’s how they send them from the factory. This didn’t make him feel better, quite the opposite since he was freshly a Lambo owner. The guy with the diagnostics came and went first to the Lambo guy, all good, the Lambo was restarted and the check engine light was off (for now). He did the same magic to the SLR and all of sudden we had an AC! We were back in the game and all lined up for our start.
At the start they gave us a time stamp of our start time and we had to arrive at the next location for exactly 80mins in order to receive points. Shortly after this, we looked at each other and we said “We are not stopping this car, no toilets, no refuels until we finish for today.”. Quite funny considering my previous state when I woke up.
We arrived and received our first points and now it was time for the drag challenge. The location for the drag was an airport for private jets and small planes. Just a quick detour: the SLR is still with the same tires it was with during GoldRush - Michelin Pilot Sport 4S (my love and hate for these tires deserves another post). After all the burnouts and road trips they’re still okay-ish, but definitely not great for the drag. We knew the performance won’t be there and this was an honourable participation. After all, you don’t see SLRs doing drag every day, do you. We were proud already for just taking a part in this challenge.
And just like that Paris Hilton’s SLR, the world’s most famous McLaren, was on an improvised drag strip in Bulgaria setting times next to GT3 RS and Ferrari 488 Pista. Poetic.
The time was alright, considering we didn’t push it all the way and the tires weren’t suitable for this challenge. Like I said - we were proud nonetheless.
After this challenge we were finally able to stop for a refuel and toilets. The only thing left for today was to go back to Sofia, take a shower, get dressed and go to the scheduled dinner and afterparty.
Easy-peasy, but from here our trip went downhill.
Just as we were entering Sofia, on one of the largest roundabouts, the SLR decided to play dirty.
“Oil pressure level low. Stop engine.” while we were in the roundabout. When you get this warning you must stop immediately. Well, that was impossible in our case. We took our exit and stopped at the sketchiest looking gas station (a rare case, in which the Hollywood portrayal of Eastern Europe was exactly like the reality). On top of that there was a thunderstorm forming above us. We knew our next step was going to attract too much attention, but we had to do it - we had to open the hood. I was like “Let’s pop the hood, in the hood”, I mean someone had to say it.
Usually people rush to film such moments, but this time they rushed to help while looking genuinely concerned. And so were we, what was happening. Why did the most reliable supercar leave us stranded? We were trying to understand and connect the dots.
We restarted the SLR and the warning was gone. This was it! Even the SLR didn’t like where it left us stranded. We used the opportunity to leave as quickly and less attractive as possible.
2 hours before the scheduled dinner, a trusted mechanic called and said he has the time to check what’s up with this car. I was dressed up taking the SLR to another suburban area. He said the SLR will be ready tomorrow morning, so now we were left with 2 option - either go back home and miss the whole reason people go to such rallies - the networking, or we get a … taxi. Getting one in Bulgaria is easy, but your chances of surviving one are 50:50. We took our chances and this time we made it in one piece. We decided to go with another supercar. The rest of the evening was a bit more relaxing, but we were so curious to know what was wrong with the SLR.
The next day we had a scheduled brunch at 11am in the most popular hotel in Sofia - Marinela. We had to go and take the SLR from the mechanic first in order to get there. You can imagine I had to wake up at 7am, get all dressed up for 11am since we were taking the SLR to the largest auto festivals on the Balkans. The trust I have in my makeup and clothes is next-level.
The SLR was ready to go, but the mechanic said “There’s a 50:50 chance it’ll leave you stranded again, but you can go.”. I thought “All mechanics are a bit too dramatic, so the chances are actually 30%, which is nothing.”. We took the SLR to the brunch, everyone else was looking fresh, while we looked like we had a small rally to get there, which was true. After the brunch, the rally was escorted by the police, which also closed the streets we were on for us. It was more of a parade and it looked like we were not the only one enjoying it. People were out on their balconies to film, others were trying to chase the SVJ to take a good photo. We arrived at Sofia Airport T2, where the festivals were happening. We all drove through them and we gave the official start of the festivals with our revs. Our participation was short. It was time for the rally to continue beyond Bulgaria and for us this meant taking the SLR back to the mechanic.
The rally-winning car this year is Ferrari 488 Pista. It was the fastest car on Hungaroring with the best overall team. They absolutely deserve this win! Congratulations!
About what was wrong with the SLR - a new post is coming!