HEIGHINGTON rally driver Guy Wilks produced a stunning drive in his Dealer Team Suzuki Ignis on the Gibbs Aquada Manx International Rally to secure his fourth successive maximum Super 1600 points score in the Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Super 1600 Championship last weekend.

The 23-year-old also finished a superb tenth overall in the event as he and Welsh co-driver Phil Pugh won 17 of the 23 special stages in the Super 1600 class to finish nearly three minutes ahead of local driver Nigel Cannell.

A gearbox problem on the penultimate stage almost cost Wilks victory, but after being stuck in neutral for 15 minutes in the road section between stages 22 and 23, he was able to find third gear and complete the final stage, albeit a little slower.

The result propels Wilks into a commanding 18-point lead in the Super 1600 Championship after previous leader Jonnie Wigmore was forced to retire during Friday's second leg following an accident.

Wilks said: "I'm elated to have won the Manx Rally and be leading the Super 1600 Championship after such a demanding three days. It has proved most demanding for team, car, Phil and myself, but we've come through with flying colours.

"Our hearts were in our mouths before the stage 23 as we thought the gearbox problem had cost us the rally, but we managed to clear the stage after making a temporary fix following a lot of heated debate between Phil and myself!"

Wilks and Pugh now fly out to Finland to compete in the Finnish round of the Junior World Rally Championship next weekend.

Fellow County Durham driver Barry Johnson also left the Isle of Man in buoyant mood having closed to within two points of the overall series lead after a ninth place finish in his Barrier Surveillance Subaru WRC.

The Shildon driver took maximum advantage of championship leader David Higgins' absence and, along with Scottish co-driver Stewart Merry, showed a rare turn of speed on his Manx debut.

Lying 11th after leg one in the mist and rain of Thursday night, the pair battled against the unforgiving and unfamiliar scenery to maintain their position going into Saturday's final loop around the island.

Despite some problems with smoke entering the car on the third day, the pair battled on to eventually secure ninth place and 15 championship points going into next month's Ulster Rally.

* Easingwold's Steve Webster made it two wins from two starts by taking a double victory in round six of the Eastern Airways Sidecar Championship round at Brands Hatch, Kent last weekend.

With fellow Yorkshireman Paul Woodhead in the chair, the pair fended off local aces Tim and Tristan Reeves into second place in both races, with German Jorg Steinhausen and Doncaster driver Derek Brindley sharing the third place podiums over the two races.

The nine-times world champion had to battle his way through from a poor start in both 15-lap races, which were held in sweltering conditions as part of the world superbike championship support programme, but each time he overcame the odds to lead the championship by 54 points going into the next round in Holland next month.

Webster and Woodhead broke the existing lap record for good measure aboard their Castrol Suzuki outfit in front of a crowd estimated to be in excess of 100,000 over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Dalepak Suzuki sidecar driver Greg Lambert suffered mixed fortunes at the same meeting.

The Scotton driver and passenger James Sirrell managed a fourth place finish on Saturday to consolidate fourth place in the standings, but on Sunday the pair encountered problems on the warm-up lap which saw the gear linkage break.

Despite the best efforts of the team to repair the problems in the pit lane, the race started without them and they were left with no option but to watch from the sidelines.

* A football match with a difference gets under way next weekend when the annual riders versus media charity game kicks off at Northallerton Town FC a week tonight.

Coinciding with the visit of the British Superbike Championship to Croft circuit next weekend, the cream of British road racers will take on a team from the media in a match which will raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Superbike stars Sean Emmett, Dennis Hobbs and James Ellison will join forces with a host of support class riders as they bid for victory under the floodlights against a media team comprising journalists, TV presenters and photographers.

Also attending, but not playing, will be Rizla Suzuki stars John Reynolds and Yukio Kagayama as well as HM Plant Honda Racing duo Michael Rutter and Karl Harris.

BBC commentator Barry Nutley will act as MC during the evening as well as keeping fans entertained during the match with his observations from the touchline.

With sponsorship from Croft circuit, NYRRSC and Electrocare of Northallerton, kick-off is at 7.45 with admission costing £3. Afterwards, a raffle and auction will take place in the clubhouse.

* After an eleventh hour cancellation last year due to insufficient entries, plans are now at an advanced stage for the 2004 MSA British Rallycross Grand Prix, scheduled to be held at Croft later in the year.

Darlington and District Motor Club have no such worries this year and have already assembled the cream of Europe's drivers for the event, which takes place over the weekend of November 6 and 7.

Tickets are already on sale and more information can be found on www.BritishRallycrossGP.com.