Sabine Schmitz: Top Gear host and racing driver dies aged 51
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The German racing driver, who earned the nickname the ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’ after her prowess around the famous circuit, revealed last year that she had been battling cancer since 2017.
She became a well-known face in the UK after appearing on episodes of Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson, before moving to a presenter role for the show more recently.
The announcement of her death was made by the Nurburgring Twitter account in a post that said: “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!”
Schmitz announced via social media last year that she was absent from the Nurburgring Endurance Series due to her ongoing battle with cancer.
In the post, she said that ‘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!”
Top Gear stars Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris have paid tribute to Schmitz, as it was revealed this Sunday’s episode of the motoring series will be dedicated to her.
McGuinness shared a picture of himself and Schmitz in a car on Instagram, writing alongside it: “I spent a glorious couple of days in a Ferrari with Sabine and she hunted me down in a banger race.
“What a woman, what a legacy, what a life. Very sad news. RIP the great Sabine Schmitz”.
Top Gear host Harris tweeted: “Rest in peace you wonderful, powerful, hilarious person”.
Former Top Gear host Clarkson also paid tribute to Schmitz, tweeting: “Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans”.
Clare Pizey, Top Gear’s executive producer, said in a statement on behalf of the Top Gear team: “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.”