#99 Fountain Worldwide's James Sheppard and throttleman Craig Wilson have expressed their delight at successfully defending their 2007 Evolution class title in this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix of the Sea Sprint race. The duo are the first to score back-to-back Evolution-class titles in Powerboat P1 history.
Third place in today’s Sprint event was enough for the reigning champion duo to put this year’s crown beyond the reach of the #60 GFN Gibellato team, who could only manage fourth place in the race. Using the same Fountain hull and Ilmor engine as in their rookie championship season in 2007, Sheppard and Wilson have notched up four wins and eight podium finishes in the 11 races run so far this year.
'The rough conditions out there were worse than they were in Malta,' said Wilson, who also doubles as the team boss. 'The start was incredibly scary. After a few laps, we got the boat set up comfortable and – as we knew we were ahead of the #60 GFN Gibellato boat – we could control the pace. The whole team has done such a fantastic job in preparing the boat this year, but winning the title still hasn’t sunk in yet.'
Sheppard was equally awestruck. 'I’ve never been so happy to have come third in a race,' he said. 'The conditions
weren’t supposed to be that rough. We did all we could to push hard, and the temptation to race the #10 Cigarette boat was quite big, but we just got into the right rhythm – we had discussed the plan beforehand, and we stuck to it. It’s also great to have made Powerboat P1 history today because no-one has ever defended the Evolution class championship before.'