James Sheppard, winner of four Honda Formula 4-Stroke titles, will be competing in this year's Class 1 World Championship, the premier league of powerboat racing.

James Sheppard, winner of four Honda Formula 4-Stroke titles, will be competing in this year’s Class 1 World Championship, the premier league of powerboat racing.

Since joining the Honda series five years ago, the 38-year-old from Sussex has won every Honda title he has contested alongside Neil Sinclair in team King of Shaves. This success has now led to a much-coveted seat in the Class 1 championship.

Sheppard’s Honda Formula 4-Stroke involvement began in 2001 when King of Shaves entered and won the old 130hp series. The team repeated this achievement in 2003 before graduating into the 225hp class where they triumphed for two consecutive seasons. The most successful and revered team in Honda Formula 4-Stroke’s history retired in 2004 although Sheppard contested a couple of guest races in 2005.

“I wouldn’t be gearing up for a Class 1 season if I’d never entered the Honda Formula 4-Stroke championship,” says Sheppard. “Racing in the Honda series gave me the necessary skills and knowledge to compete at an international level. I am really looking forward to Class 1.”

“We are very proud of James and what he has achieved,” adds Martin Sanders, General Manager, Honda (UK) Power Equipment. “James’ graduation to Class 1 is conclusive proof that Honda Formula 4-Stroke is the perfect stepping stone for those enthusiasts aspiring to race against the best drivers in the world.”

Sheppard’s new partner will be 47-year-old property developer Chris Parsonage from Cornwall who contested the 2004 and 2005 Class 1 championships as team ‘Negotiator’. Sheppard and Parsonage first teamed up for the Isle of Wight Challenge during the 2005 Cowes Powerboat Festival. The duo broke the ‘Round the Island’ speed record and decided to expand on their successful partnership in 2006.

Driver Sheppard and throttleman Parsonage as team King of Shaves will be the first all-British team to compete in Class 1 since 2000. They will be trying to emulate reigning and seven-time world champion, Steve Curtis, who organises the Honda Formula 4-Stroke championship as well as competing in the Class 1 series.

Sheppard and Parsonage will race against Curtis for the first time in Doha, Qatar on March 30, and later in Plymouth, an event which also includes four rounds of the Honda Formula 4-Stroke championship.