RACING driver and Top Gear favourite Sabine Schmitz has died at the age of 51.

The Nürburgring's most famous female driver – widely known as Queen of the Ring – lost her battle with cancer after more than three years with the disease.

Paying tribute, a statement from the legendary German race track said: "The Nürburgring 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!"

Sabine, the only female winner of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, became known to the general public after appearing on Top Gear from 2004 before joining the presenting team when Chris Evans took over the show in 2016.

Current host Paddy McGuinness paid tribute to the driver, describing her as "an amazing human being".

He tweeted: "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."

Sabine, who became a professional driver in 1993, was first seen on British TV taking ex-Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson around the Nürburgring.

He tweeted today: "Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans."

Clarkson’s former Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond wrote: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Sabine Schmitz, a proper driving legend who’ll be sadly missed by many. The Ring has lost its Queen. RIP.”

Meanwhile, Chris Evans also expressed his "shock" at her death on his Virgin radio show, recalling how she made him "throw up" during a speedy drive.

"It's a shock to hear that she's passed away. It's really sad. She made me throw up!" he told listeners.

"On Daytona, the best bit on my time in Top Gear was the ad, the trailer for Top Gear where we managed to put together because Sabine is such a good driver, we spent some time in southern California together and she taught me how to drive, how to actually make a car fly around Daytona. But very very sad news that she's passed away."

Formula One paid tribute tweeting: “We are all deeply saddened to hear that Sabine Schmitz has passed away. An incredible talent and wonderful person who made us all smile. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”

Sabine had co-presented German motoring show D Motor from 2006, frequently being set challenges behind the wheel.

She became known as "the fastest taxi driver in the world" after being one of two drivers who circled Nurburgring's 20.8km track in BMW M5 "ring taxis".

She has also featured on other driving shows such as Fifth Gear.

Sabine was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and in summer 2020 the disease struck again, reported Autoblog.

She revealed her heartbreaking battle with cancer in a social media post explaining her absence from the Nürburgring Endurance Series with her team Frikadelli Racing.

"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," she wrote.

"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'."


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