Former Top Gear presenter Sabine Schmitz – famous for being the only woman to win the Nürburgring 24 Hours – has died aged 51.
Schmitz said last year that she was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.
Schmitz had become synonymous with the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the 14 mile circuit in Germany which is renowned as the most difficult in the world.
She won the 24-hour touring car race on the track twice, in 1996 and 1997, driving a BMW M3.
She became known as the “Queen of the Nürburgring” and estimated that she had circled the track more than 20,000 times.
Schmitz was then acclaimed for an appearance on Top Gear in 2004 in which she drove a pickup truck on the track and then became a presenter on the show alongside Chris Evans in 2016.
This Sunday’s episode of Top Gear will be dedicated to Schmitz, with Clare Pizey, executive producer, stating, “Sabine has been a beloved member of the Top Gear family and presentation team since 2016, appearing for the first time on the show in 2004, and everyone who had the pleasure of working with her on the team is in shock at this news.
“Sabine beamed with positivity, always sported her cheeky smile no matter how difficult it was – and was a force of nature to female drivers in the automotive world.
“Like everyone who knew her, she will be truly missed – Sabine was truly one of a kind. Our hearts go out to her partner Klaus, who has always been by her side and whom we have welcomed to Dunsfold on several occasions, and to his family in Germany. “
Top Gear presenter Chris Harris said Schmitz was “a wonderful, powerful and hilarious person” while former show host Jeremy Clarkson paid tribute by tweeting that she was “such a person. sunny and so full of beans “.