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Female race driving pioneer, Sabine Schmitz dies at 51 after long battle with cancer

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Sabine

German racing legend and Top Gear star Sabine Schmitz has died at the age of 51 after a long battle with cancer.

Sabine, widely known as the “Queen of the Nürburgring”, had suffered from the illness for more than three years.

A statement issued by the famous German racetrack 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!”

Schmitz had previously revealed that she had been suffering from cancer since 2017.

Following her withdrawal from a race, she said in a statement issued last July: “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!

The death of Schmitz has prompted an outpouring of tributes.

Current presenter Paddy McGuinness said: “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.”

Sophia Flörsch, a fellow German female racing driver, said she had been inspired by Schmitz.

“Very sad news for motorsport,” she said.

“Sabine is the queen at @nuerburgring. She always will be unreachable in the Green Hell. Seeing her races was inspirational and motivating. My deepest condolences to the family. RIP Sabine.”

A tweet posted by the official account of Porsche, whose cars she raced competitively, said: “Very sad to hear that Sabine Schmitz (1969-2021) has passed away. The “Queen of Nordschleife” was a crowd favourite due to her open, humorous way.

“The two-time @24hNBR winner was an icon at the wheel of the #Frikadelli #Porsche. Our sympathy goes to her family and friends.”

Schmitz, who grew up within the boundaries of Germany’s iconic race track, earned the nickname ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’ after claiming to have completed more than 20,000 laps of it.

She also became known as the ‘world’s fastest taxi driver’ for taking passengers around the track in a BMW M5.

 

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