Our Philosopy for Series 6 (and Extreme 2)
Well so much for reliability. Tornado's near spotless reliability record at the first part of the Extreme filming made us complacent, and we didn't inspect the kart clutch sprocket that had been on Tornado since day one. It failed while fighting Diotoir, and we paid the price - bombing out in the second round of Series 5! Then in the second part of the Extreme filming our removable link came out (in the Melee), again original parts that we did not check. We will make a conscious effort to check all the parts we use in future, and routinely replace those that have failed in the past. Outside of the filming, we've had two failures of our side armour, damaging the drivetrain and making Tornado lose fights. Once might have been a lucky hit, but twice is not, and we shall do something about it.
Torque + Grip = Pushing Ability
It's not just torque and grip. Getting underneath your opponent can be vital too, as Diotoir and Razer have shown us. The correct batteries make a real difference - we ran Kiels for the first part of the Extreme filming, and had a bit of trouble pushing the American robot Panzer Mk2. Various factors affect grip, and we're slowly learning these too.
The chassis is built the same and is as strong as ever, although its construction is not crusher (Razer) or big spinner (Matilda) proof! It still works well for us however, and we have no plans to change anything.
Difficult to Immobilise
We've had a couple of close shaves in Extreme, ending up propped against the arena wall when fighting Chaos 2 and Behemoth. No robot is infallible though; we've just got to learn to keep away from the arena walls when we're up against flippers!
The vertical spinning disc proved itself a powerful and reliable weapon during Extreme, and we won many battles with it. However, it was a real pig to service between fights, and it took us a lot of time to do so. Given the investment in its design and construction, and how effective it has been for us, we plan to make modifications that will allow us to service the weapon with much greater ease. But we don't want to stop there; the disc is far from ideal against some types of opponent (e.g. crushers), so we plan to make use of the interchangeable weapons rule, and build specialised weapons designed to beat them. We've already tested the idea in Extreme, using our charity event pushing scoup against Razer in the World Championships.
Showmanship, Theatre and Themeing
So much for spare weight! We've acknowledged now that we're a serious team, and we don't need any gimmicks. Our only bizzare feature is the Comedy Flying Cow logo, which shall remain, because it's become associated with Tornado. Any "spare" weight will go into improving the machine, not on anything that could be considered unnecessary.
The sheer intensity of the Extreme filming schedule made it very clear to us how important quick repairs are. We made changes after the first part of Extreme to speed up servicing between fights, and we plan more to speed up the process further. Teamwork makes repairs easier, and working together we can strip Tornado to a bare chassis in less than 40 minutes; we want to keep or even improve on this ability. We are learning what tools we need, and whenever we find something that will make working on Tornado quicker or easier, we try to get hold of it.
Extreme went very well for us on the driving front, and my ability to put Tornado where I want it is improving all the time. Practice makes perfect! I've learnt how to beat the "merry little dance" (going round in a circle) situation, and I'm also learning when to pull back and wait for the opponent to make a move (generally when the House Robots get involved). It may sound like the domain of world class athletes (and a bit far fetched), but I'm starting to notice how much my frame of mind and physical well being affect how well I drive. Being able to keep calm while waiting backstage for a fight to commence helps immensely, and I'm trying to learn this.
Put simply, what did we learn from Series 5 (and Extreme 1)?
Do not understimate any opponent. We underestimated Diotoir, and paid for it. We now know how important it is to keep focussed and not to forget anything (or to check any part), no matter how small it may be, because that little thing will put you out - just because it was fine up until now doesn't mean it will be fine next time you need it. Also, Tornado is very vunerable to crushers!
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