So here we were, a Saturday afternoon in August in Nottingham, England and about to take part in the Grand Finals of Robot Wars Series 7.  We were in an elite few with robots like Tornado and Typhoon 2 all ready to roll.  We were worried by the previous days experience in which it seemed that the producers of the show were trying to find a way to avoid Storm II winning against Firestorm - what would happen on Grand Final day ?

Grand Finals - Storm II vs Tornado- Filming Date Saturday 30th August 2003
For our first fight in the Grand Finals we were to fight Tornado, our old friends, colleagues and mentors.  Tornado had been the inspiration for Storm II and the team had provided an enormous about of support to us over the years we had been building robots helping us through the steep learning curve of robots.  Suddenly we were up against a household name, past champions, Robot Wars Extreme Challenge Belt  holders , Winners of Series 6 - Storm II was going to take on it's mentor. 

It was strange chatting to the Tornado Team before the fight, they'd gone from being our friends to our competitors, we weren't really sure how to deal with this.  They didn't seem confident in taking us on, and we weren't really very confident in taking them on

Bryan, Andy and Dave - Team Tornado
It was Ed driving again for this fight as we made our way up to our control booths, knowing that whoever won this fight had a very good change of going on to become the Robot Wars Grand Champions of Series 7

The voice of god counted down and before we knew it we were off.  Tornado started off well, getting their 'scoop of doom' underneath the from of Storm II and driving us back against the arena wall.  There was nothing Ed could do to get off them so we just let them drive us back, knowing that at some point they would have to back off and we could use our superior acceleration and speed (10mph vs 25mph) to get away from them.  As the backed away Storm II pulled away and we used our speed to turn inside them getting alongside them before they could get their scoop pointing back at us again.

We drove Tornado hard into the arena sidewall sending them flying through the air (the TV footage of this doesn't do it justice) and they actually bounced back over the front of Refbot.

Time and time again we rammed Tornado into the side wall of the arena and/or the house robots desperate to score points in the judges eyes - and when Tornado did threaten, we used our superior speed to get away from them and re-group.
The decisive moment came in the fight when we got our lifter in under Tornado and turned them over.  With their scoop now the wrong way up they were powerless to do anything, every time the drove at Storm II they just rode up our scoop
At the far end of the arena Refbot went to press the pit release button and we drove Storm II down the length of the arena at full speed with Tornado on the front and threw them off the front of the robot, sending them skimming into the pit.  Tornado sank down out of our view, the crown cheered and we celebrated in the control booth.... but NO, controversy was to come and hit us again.

Tornado had sunk out of view of us in the control booth, meaning that the pit must have been at least 1ft below the level of the arena, and as we celebrated and the crown cheered, a little red box started to rise up again into the arena. 

Mentorn were raising the pit again to put Tornado back into the fight.  When this was cut for TV what you actually saw was Tornado exiting the pit as the pit was coming UP, not descending.  The commentary suggests Tornado had a 'lucky' escape - trust us, it was far more than luck that got Tornado back out of the pit.

Anyway, with a shrug of our shoulders we decided the only option was to dish out more of what we'd been delivering to Tornado and decided to just carry on knowing that Tornado was still inverted and therefore didn't pose us any sort of a threat.

We were both extatic and disappointed in the booth when Craig announced our win.  Of course we were glad to win, but there was also a part of me that wanted Tornado to go through and prove that they could win the trophy twice on the trot.

We couldn't believe that we'd beaten them, but again we were worried that after the Firestorm incident where it appeared that the producers had tried to manipulate the rules.  We found ourselves again looking at going into another fight with another example of the producers using what control they had of the arena/rules to try to remove Storm II from the competition.  That's twice now.... what next ?

The Grand Final- Storm II vs Typhoon 2- Filming Date Sunday 31st August 2003
So here we were, about to take part in the Grand Final of Robot Wars, knowing that if we won that we'd also be in the World Championships (being filmed the same day).  A total of 4 full combat fights in one day - no mean feat for any robot.  But before we could contemplate any of this, we had to get past Typhoon 2

What you're about to read is a recollection of what is probably the most controversial fight ever on Robot Wars

Typhoon 2 was a robot built by engineers at BAE Systems for the Edinburgh Air Cadets, it's a bit like taking on the RAF at Robot Wars - the engineering resource balanced is somewhat stacked in their favour !  Even so, we were all confident that Storm II could last the distance, and so long as we remained the aggressor and didn't take anything other than superficial damage we were confident of a win. 

We were actually looking forward to fighting Typhoon 2 far more than we would have been looking forward to fighting Exterminator as their spinning up-cutting disk could have easily turned Storm II over which could have given us some serious problems.

Typhoon 2 was not a well robot before our fight having taken some internal damage after it's previous fight.  We were on pit tables next to them and as Storm II sat quietly, it's batteries being topped up, the Typhoon 2 team were busy as the engineers worked on their robot.

Inside Typhoon 2 (Taken whilst in the US competing)

We were up in the control booth waiting for the fight to start, Ed was driving and we were ready to go.  Our tactic was simple, keep the pressure on Typhoon 2 and choose when we hit them, as opposed to letting them come after us.  Activate was called and Storm II started stalking Typhoon 2 around the arena.  They quickly spun their disk up to speed, but didn't seem to know how to deal with Storm II.  Whereas other competitors that they had taken on had tended to dance around them, Storm II was relentlessly chasing them down with them 'running away' (apparently strategically) all the time.  Eventually Storm II got close enough and rammed into the side of Typhoon.  Storm II was knocked away and Typhoon 2 bounced off.... all eyes were on Storm II which we simply turned back to face Typhoon 2, and continued the relentless pursuit of them.  Storm II was like the terminator, it simply shrugged off the impact turned back and continued it's pursuit.

The game of cat and mouse went on for some time.  Typhoon 2 always running and Storm II always pursuing.  Typhoon 2 had never had to last thins long with it's disk at full speed and it's motors driving it around the arena, in previous fights it's opponent had always been quickly immobilised and the wear was starting to show on Typhoon 2.

Their disk stopped spinning up, and for almost 2 mins of the fight Storm II was under Typhoon 2 using it's lifting arm.

We took them into the CPZ expecting the house robots to dispose of what was now a dead duck, but the House Robots weren't interested as we paraded Typhoon 2 from CPZ to CPZ.  With the house Robots not doing what they should do (attacking a robot in the CPZ) we decided to see if we could repeat our Steel Avenger trick and bounce them out of the arena.  Storm II blasted Typhoon 2 at full speed the full length of the arena, but just meters from the side wall, Typhoon 2 caught the edge of the pit and spun away off the front of Storm II - this was also enough for them to get their disk spinning again !

Typhoon 2 were back in the game now, although well down on points.  They disk was spinning again and Storm II went back to chasing them around the arena.  Suddenly Typhoon to dived to one side and smashed the arena side wall sending bits of Polycarbonate flying.  Typhoon 2's disk stopped immediately and they were sent ricocheting across the arena.  Cease was called straight away and both teams were told to drive their robots back to the bull pens.

We had to wait whilst the arena was repaired and then both teams drove back out to the arena to carry on the fight.  Storm II was ready to go but Typhoon 2 couldn't get their weapon to spin up (again).... nothing new there in this fight !!

However, AGAIN something very very strange took place.

Typhoon 2 were allowed to FIX their weapon system so that they could spin up.  At this point Team Storm decided this was all too much and lodged a protest with Mentorn.  Typhoon's disk wasn't spinning up properly long before they hit the wall - so why should they be allowed to repair damage mid fight.

The answer that Mentorn gave was that they would have to 'Edit out' the arena being smashed as it wouldn't be appropriate to show that on TV and thus they had to 'maintain continuity'.  We were assured that this wasn't being done to be unfair, but was being done to maintain consistency in the show.  We pointed out again that Typhoon had been having problems long before they hit the wall, but it was clear Mentorn didn't care.

After almost 10 mins of the Typhoon team having the lid off the robot and working on their engine starting and disk drive system they put the lid back on the robot and were ready to compete again.  I think this must have been the first time that a team have been allowed to repair a fault with their robot mid-battle.

The rest of the fight was must the same, Typhoon 2 running away and Storm II chasing.  Typhoon 2 again started to show signs of battle damage, it's driving became erratic and we could see that they had lost some drive chains from the inner workings of their robot in the arena.  In the final seconds of the fight one of the front armour panels of Storm II was dislodged by Typhoon to along with it's support, and the fight was over.

Neither team knew who had won.  Both teams had taken damage during the fight.  Typhoon's weapon system kept stopping repeatedly and they had to fix it mid-fight.  They'd also lost drive chains from the robot which Chris Reynolds picked up from the arena after their fight and offered to throw them up to the balcony where we were all standing with Craig.

Knowing that their robot had a damaged weapon system, knowing that they had lost drive to some of their wheels (we all saw Chris Reynolds who looks after the house robots pick up the chains from the floor and tell the Typhoon team they'd put them with the robot) in the interview the Typhoon team claimed that their robot was totally 'undamaged' and that it was 'like new' - not something that we expected, we'd at least expected honesty.

Tim, Meral and Ed couldn't believe it.  An organisation such as the RAF were standing there and at worst lying, at best being very very econimical with the truth about the state of their robot.  Mentorn decided to bring the lost armour panel of Storm II up to the interview booth and hand it to us - but there were no sign of the chains that Typhoon had lost previously in the arena.  There was no mention of the fact that Typhoon 2 were given time to repair their robot in the fight.

In the end, the fight was given to Typhoon 2.  We were gutted, the audience booed - save the small group of supporters the Typhoon team had with them.  On the TV footage Mentorn had to add 'canned applause' as the booing was so loud from the audience.

Mentorn the producers of the show had at last managed to stop Storm II from winning, they'd apparently tried to throw us out for not using our active weapon against Firestorm.  They'd brought the pit back up to let Tornado get back into the fight against us, and they'd finally resorted to allowing a robot be repaired mid-fight in the name of 'continuity' and totally ignoring all the damage that had been done to Typhoon 2, to concentrate on an armour panel and it's supports

Afterwards when the judges found out that Typhoon had lost drive chains, and the extent of the repairs they had made behind the scenes Team Storm got apologies from all of them - one in writing.

The way the system works is after a fight Mentorn hand the judges a piece of paper detailing the damage to each robot.  On the sheet for Typhoon 2, Mentorn had listed 'no damage'.  Mentorn showed footage of the judges inspecting the damage from the robots, and you saw part of the front scoop of Storm II being given to the judges, but no-one told them that Typhoon had lost drive chains from inside the robot.  It was sad day for Team Storm, but it did get us automatic qualification into the World Championships. 

Typhoon 2 should have entered the World Championships too, but it mysteriously retired - apparently so that it's batteries could be used for a sideshow 'middleweight' final.  A strange mix of priorities when you have a robot that's apparently 'fighting fit' and the World Championships to film that day.  Typhoon 2 was never seen again at filming, and dropped out of the World Championships with 'technical difficulties' according to the show as opposed to never entering the competition as was the story on the day from the team.

...... suspicion is that it was in such as state internally after the fight with Storm II, it couldn't compete any longer.  Strange for a robot with 'no damage'  Storm II needed 2 mins with a welder, and we were fighting fit and ready to go.

Still to this day we meet people who tell us 'we were robbed' - but we realised we were going to be robbed one way or another from the semi-finals onwards.  It's a shame, and it's not that we're sore losers - we'd just have liked to have a fair fight !  

Storm II however now had the big one in front of it.......... The Robot Wars World Championships, and for that you'll have to check back soon !



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