Motorsport rocked by tragic death of legendary Sabine Schmitz, 51

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Sabine Schmitz, pictured here on Top Gear.
Sabine Schmitz has died at the age of 51. Image: AAP

The motorsport world is mourning the tragic death of female pioneer Sabine Schmitz, who died on Wednesday at age 51.

Known as the “Queen of the Nürburgring” racetrack in Germany, Schmitz died after a three-year battle with cancer.

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"The Nürburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver," the legendary racetrack's official Twitter account wrote on Wednesday.

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

Frikadelli Racing, the team she founded with husband Klaus Abbelen, confirmed the news earlier on Wednesday.

“Sabine Schmitz passed away yesterday after her brave fight against cancer,” a statement read.

“She was 51 years old. Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss.”

The only female winner of the 24-hour race at Nürburgring, Schmitz also shot to fame via her role on BBC’s Top Gear, where she first appeared back in 2004.

She joined the show as a regular presenter when Chris Evans took over in 2016 following Jeremy Clarkson's exit.

“Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans,” Clarkson tweeted.

Sabine Schmitz, pictured here during a car parade at the Nuerburgring race track.
Sabine Schmitz during a car parade at the Nuerburgring race track. (Photo by Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The show's current host Paddy McGuinness described Schmitz as "an amazing human being".

"She gave me pointers on how to drive a Ferrari very fast and hunted me down in a banger race," he tweeted.

"Brilliantly bonkers and an amazing human being! RIP the great Sabine Schmitz."

Fellow presenter Chris Harris added: “Rest in peace you wonderful, powerful, hilarious person.”

Fellow female driver Sophia Floersch wrote: “Very sad news for motorsport. Sabine is the queen at Nürburgring.

“She always will be unreachable in the Green Hell. Seeing her races was inspirational and motivating.

"My deepest condolences to the family. RIP Sabine.”

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Sabine Schmitz revealed cancer battle last year

Schmitz revealed last year she had been battling cancer since 2017.

“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 in a social media post.

“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 previously estimated she had completed more than 20,000 laps at the Nürburgring, one of the most famous and challenging racetracks in the world.

She remains the only female driver to win the famous Nürburgring 24 Hours, achieving the remarkable feat twice.

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