'Queen of the Nurburgring' Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Schmitz became the first woman to win the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 1996, taking two victories in the historic sportscar race before enjoying a long career intrinsically linked to the circuit, as well as becoming known for her features on BBC programme Top Gear.

In a statement issued by Frikadelli Racing - the team she founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen - it was announced that Schmitz had lost her long battle against cancer and died at the age of 51 on Tuesday.

“Sabine Schmitz (14.5.1969 – 16.3.2021) passed away yesterday (Tuesday) after her brave fight against cancer,” the team wrote on social media.

Schmitz made history at the Nurburgring as the first female overall winner of the 24-hour race in 1996 before taking a second victory the following year.

Schmitz also made two guest appearances in the World Touring Car Championship at the Nurburgring, recording two points finishes in 2015 and 2016.

Outside Germany Schmitz was best-known through her appearances on Top Gear at the Nurburgring, where she coached Jeremy Clarkson in a feature at the circuit before attempting to beat his lap time in a Ford Transit van.

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