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SPORTS

Sabine Schmitz dead: Top Gear presenter and Queen of the Nurburgring dies aged 51

WOMEN IN SPORTS By Mirror | March 17th 2021
The German racing legend became a popular feature on BBC's Top Gear show. [Photo: Courtesy]

Top Gear and German racing legend Sabine Schmitz has tragically passed away aged 51 after a long battle with cancer.

Schmitz, known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, was a familiar face on British television due to her spell on the BBC's flagship motor racing show over the years, first appearing back in 2004.

She became an instant hit with fans after racing a Ford Transit van around the Nurburgring in an attempt to get under the 10-minute mark; a feat she missed out on by just eight seconds.

Last year Schmitz revealed she had been secretly battling cancer since 2017, having been forced to pull out of a racing event at the last minute.

Nurburgring, the iconic German racing track which is regarded as one of the most challenging circuits in motorsport, revealed the tragic news of her death on Wednesday morning.

A statement read: "The Nurburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver.

"Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!"

In a gut-wrenching post on social media last year, Schmitz explained that her absence from the Nurburgring Endurance Series race, despite being on the entry list, was due to her battle with cancer.

Sabine Schmitz. [Photo: Courtesy]

She wrote: "Dear friends of professional motorsport.

"Many of you have probably wondered why I was on the list of participants on our Porsche in the NSL and then didn’t drive after all.

"I would like to provide enlightenment here, I think I owe it to my/our fans!

"Since the end of 2017, I have been fighting an extremely persistent cancer that has not been eliminated with the resources so far. It got a little better – but now it’s come back with full force.

"Now I have to draw all the strength and nerve to master the next powerful therapies … hoping something [good] will happen. So I say goodbye 'probably' for the first time this season.

"In addition, I would like to thank everyone for their help and support in my everyday life, and encouragement in writing!

"So sweethearts, now you have an update. Please stay healthy and cheerful, see you at the ‘Ring.”

Schmitz appearing on Top Gear in 2017. [Photo: Courtesy]

Schmitz grew up within the boundaries of Germany's iconic race track and earned the nickname "Queen of the Nurburgring" after estimating she completed more than 20,000 laps of the track.

The racing icon also became known as the 'world’s fastest taxi driver' by driving passengers around the track in a BMW M5.

She first appeared on Top Gear in 2004 alongside Jeremy Clarkson and then became a regular feature on the popular TV show.

Following Clarkson's exit in 2015, Schmitz joined the revamped hosting line-up and retained a recurring role during the BBC's period of various presenters.

As well as Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, Schmitz also worked alongside Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff during her spell on Top Gear.

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