Our emphatic win in the heats of Series 7 hadn't gone un-noticed by the crew and the company that make Robot Wars.  Worried by Storm II's cruise to victory in the New Blood competition they had brought in a new rule (to try to exclude heavily armour machines like Storm II) from taking part.  Now Storm II was looking as unstoppable as it did during the New Blood competition of Robot Wars Extreme, and the rumours around the pits was that Mentorn (the company that make Robot Wars) weren't happy.  The last thing they wanted after Tornado's win in Series 6 is another 'box' winning the competition

Round 3 [Semi Finals] - Storm II vs Grim Reaper- Filming Date Friday 29th August 2003
So here we are, getting ready for the series semi finals of Robot Wars and we suddenly find ourselves in very esteemed company indeed.  We're now looking at fighting the likes of Grim Reaper and the awesome Firestorm (a machine that the whole team had been inspired by during the early years of Robot Wars).  We weren't fighting alongside fellow newcomers any more here, now we were fighting with the best of the best.

Our first fight was against Grim Reaper, a robot that had done very well during it's heats, beating Big Nipper in a nail-biting final just a couple of days before.  The Grim Reaper team seemed supremely confident of their abilities - and we were (believe it or not) still not too sure of Storm II's credentials.  Were we just getting lucky, or had we really built a winner here - only time would tell.

For the first time in Series 7 we decided that as we were going to be fighting two flippers, both of whom had done very well in their heat fights that we would put the side skirts on Storm II.  Each skirt is a water-cut piece of 2014T aluminium 6mm thick with a number of heavy-duty hinges to hold it onto the side of Storm II.

The skirts are sprung loaded to hold them down to the floor of the arena and are ground along the base to ensure that they sit flush to the arena floor.  The idea is that they will prevent flippers from getting underneath us from the sides of Storm II, leaving us free to concentrate on the fighting, rather than worrying about having to dodge other robots.

The Grim Reaper boys (predictably) found the idea that Storm II was wearing a skirt highly amusing, however we were sure that we'd have the last laugh.

Tim was driving against Grim Reaper and for the first time we were starting to relax into the event and enjoy ourselves.  Even if we went out at this stage we had proved that Storm II's success in the Robot Wars Extreme New Blood championship wasn't just a fluke and that we had what it took to deliver the goods.  Both Storm II and Grim Reaper edged out in the arena.

The fight started in explosive style with Tim holding nothing back against the Grim Reaper, slamming them against the arena wall time after time after time.  It soon became that although the Grim Reaper was clinging on to life, it simply wasn't a credible threat to Storm II, They couldn't get their front flipper underneath us, and with that knowledge in mind, Tim was able to do what he wanted with them when he wanted.

Grim Reaper was slammed around the arena, using the highly controllable lifting arm (rather than a crude flipper) we were able to balance Grim Reaper on their back in front of Shunt who duly obliged and bring his axe down to reign on the Grim Reaper.

Happy with our little visit to Shunt's CPZ (Corner Patrol Zone) we took the Grim Reaper over to visit Sgt Bash and let him grab them with his huge crushing claw on the front of the robot, more damage caused and more points for Storm II.

All too quickly the fight was over, Storm II was clearly the victor having blown the Grim Reaper out, but in the last second of the fight (literally) Storm II had a serious problem which the team noticed in the control booth and quietly put the robot into 'Kill' which shuts down the speed controller.  Back in the pits we found out that Storm II had blown a FET in the speed controller at the exact second that cease was called.  What took place next was a testament to roboteer support, leaving the Tornado Team, Dave Gamble the builder of our speed controller came over and stripped it down to remove the FET that had given up, and replace both the FET and the FET driver on the PCB.  All the time the clock was running against us to get Storm II ready to go into it's next fight.

The Grim Reaper boys couldn't believe their luck, was Storm II about to drop out due to technical problems and let them go through - would we answer the prayers of the producers of Robot Wars and the little black box would be out ?  It was made clear to us that if we didn't get Storm II up and operational pretty quickly we were going to be removed from the competition and in a mammoth effort both Team Storm and Dave from Team Tornado managed to get Storm II back up and running again, just in the nick of time for it's fight with the first of the series Robot Wars veterans. 

Round 3 [Semi Finals] - Storm II vs Firestorm - Filming Date Saturday 30th August 2003

This is where it got serious, really serious.  We were fighting for a place in the Robot Wars Grand Final and all that stood between us and it was the awesome reputation of Firestorm, driven by Graham and Hazel.

We spent ages looking at Firestorm trying to work out how to beat it, it's designed so that it can reverse off a scoop at a steep angle so simply getting underneath it wasn't the answer, it also had a strip of 2mm spring steel across the front of it which provided a very hard touch front to their ..... hang on..... 2mm ?  Suddenly we spotted a weakness.  Their front scoop although very hard was only made of 2mm spring steel.  All we had to do was to bend this sufficiently and Firestorm would no-longer be able to get under us.

What we needed to do was keep on attacking the front of FireStorm (carefully to avoid being flipped), to damage this spring steel enough so that they could no longer get under the front of Storm II.  The concept sounded great on paper - but would it work in practice ?
3...2...1... Activate and this time it was Ed driving Storm II.  We got off to a tentative start, jostling alongside Firestorm, both drivers trying to scope out what the other was capable of.  Storm II at one point drove straight up and over the top of Firestorm - a warning to Ed that Firestorm was quite capable of getting in underneath our scoop, but Firestorm weren't ready for the pace of Storm II and we simply flew off the back of ther robot back to the arena floor before they'd had time to fire their flipper !

Storm II continued to make inroads into Firestorm, slowly working away at the front scoop of Firestorm until suddenly we realised that they could no longer get underneath the front of Storm II.  We could do what we wanted with them now, they no longer posed a threat and Storm II moved in with the kind of style it had been showing for the rest of the competition and with a few deft moves went in for a killer blow, dumping Firestorm down the pit.

We really couldn't believe it - I mean we REALLY couldn't believe it.  We'd expected to go out to Firestorm, they were old veterans, favourites with the crowd and people that we'd looked up to.  When we finally managed to get them down into the pit the whole team went totally nuts in the control booth.  We'd done it, we'd made it to the Grand Finals of Robot Wars.

.... but there was controversy that you didn't see on TV

Before Craig Charles announced us the winner there was a long pause.  It would appear that the producers of Robot Wars tried to persuade the judges that we shouldn't win the fight.  The reason was - although we had an 'active weapon' we didn't actually use it in the fight.  There was even a discussion in the interview booth between us all about it trying to understand the logic.  Ed couldn't remember if he'd used the weapon or not, but surely that didn't make any difference ?  In the end the judges stood firm and refused to be swayed by Mentorn's interpretation of the rules

Storm II to go cruising on into the Grand Finals

The Grand Finals . . . . .


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