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Former Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, the German was a familiar face on British television as a result of her time on the BBC's flagship motor racing show over the years.

Former Top Gear presenter and German racing legend Sabine Schmitz has died aged 51 after a long battle with cancer.

Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Known as the Queen of the Nurburgring, the German was a familiar face on British television as a result of her time on the BBC’s flagship motor racing show over the years.

Schmitz first appeared alongside Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May back in 2004 and kept a recurring role despite the various presenter rosters on Top Gear over the years.

Nurburgring announced the news of her death on Wednesday morning with a statement reading: “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!” Former Top Gear presenter Clarkson led the tributes, writing on Twitter: “Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.

Current Top Gear presenter Paddy McGuinness also paid tribute to Schmitz on social media, writing on Twitter: “She gave me pointers on how to drive a Ferrari very fast and hunted me down in a banger race. Brilliantly bonkers and an amazing human being! RIP the great Sabine Schmitz.” Last year Schmitz, who is the only woman to have won 24 Hours of Nurburgring, revealed she had been secretly battling cancer since 2017, having been forced to pull out of a racing event at the last minute.

She wrote: “Dear friends of professional motor sport. 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.”

Top Gear’s executive producer, Clare Pizey, released a statement on behalf of the Top Gear team saying: “Sabine was a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presenting team since 2016, having first appeared on the show in 2004, and everyone who had the pleasure of working with her on the team is in shock at this news. The ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’, Sabine radiated positivity, always wore her cheeky smile no matter how hard things got – and was a force of nature for women drivers in the motoring world. Like everyone else who knew her, we will truly miss her – Sabine really was one of a kind. Our thoughts are with her partner Klaus who was always by her side and who we welcomed to Dunsfold many times, and her family in Germany.”

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