DARLINGTON rallycross star Michael Shield has died at the age of 57.

The former British Rallycross champion was one of the most popular and well-known figures in the North-East motorsport for much of the 1980s and 90s.

Having ridden in motorcycle trials as a junior, Shield raced in autocross as soon as he had his driving licence and progressed quickly to rallycross where, after a couple of learning years, he won the Formula D 1600cc class of the British championship in 1986.

Using that success as a springboard to the top class of rallycross, Shield raced a self-prepared version of the iconic MG Metro 6R4 from 1987 when he was a member of the six-man British team that won the FIA Inter-Nations Cup event at Croft Circuit.

In 1989, Shield achieved his greatest success by becoming the British Rallycross champion. Winning the British title at just 23-years-old, Shield became the youngest-ever champion, a record he held until 2016.

Shield raced in the Formula Renault series in circuit racing before returning to rallycross in 1994 when he raced in the Group N class with a Sierra Cosworth.

Throughout most of his racing career, Shield worked with his father, George, in the promotion of rallycross events at Croft Circuit including a second running of the Inter-Nations Cup in 1990 and the FIA European Championship in 1994.

After Croft was redeveloped for circuit racing a year later, Shield focused on the family farm at Cleasby, near Darlington.

Following several years of fragile health, he died suddenly in hospital and is survived by his wife Julie and their children, Robert and Elise, as well as his mother Joyce.