Top Gear star and ‘Queen of the Ring’ Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51
INTERNATIONAL - German racing driver and TV personality Sabine Schmidt has passed away from cancer at the age of 51.
“The Nürburgring has lost its most famous female racing driver,” the German circuit said in a statement. “Sabine Schmitz passed away far too early after a long illness. We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”
Sabine became famous after an astounding driving feat that featured on the sixth season of the BBC’s Top Gear. After tutoring Jeremy Clarkson on the Nordschleife she then claimed that she could beat the time that he had achieved in a Jaguar S-Type, driving a Ford Transit Van with barely 100kW. Although she didn’t quite beat his time, she came remarkably close, while also setting a new record for an unmodified van, of 10 minutes and 8 seconds.
Of course, Sabine was known as something of a Nordschleife guru, being familiar with every one of the 73 corners and 300 metres of hills across the legendary 20.832-km-long circuit in Germany.
She was also the first woman to have won the legendary 24-hour race there.
Sabine is survived by her husband Klaus Abbelen, with whom she founded the team Frikadelli Racing.
“Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss,” the team said in a statement.
Jeremy Clarkson added a tribute of his own on social media, remembering her as “Such a sunny person and so full of beans.”