‘Queen of the Nürburgring’ and ex-Top Gear host Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51

Top Gear presenter had been dealing with a rare form of cancer since 2017

Sabine Schmitz, the only female winner of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, has died at the age of 51.

The Top Gear presenter revealed last year that she had been dealing with a rare form of cancer since 2017.

German race track Nürburgring said in a statement: “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!”

Adenau-born Schmitz's first triumph at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring came in 1996 with Johannes Scheid and Hans Widmann in the BMW M3.

She won again the following year with Scheid, Hans-Jurgen Tiemann and Peter Zakowski.

Schmitz, who was widely known as 'Queen of the Nürburgring', later impressed with her own team Frikadelli Racing, which she had founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen.

She first joined Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC show Top Gear in 2004 and became part of the presenting team when Chris Evans revamped the programme in 2016.

Formula One paid tribute by saying on Twitter: "We are all deeply saddened to hear that Sabine Schmitz has passed away. An incredible talent and wonderful person who made us all smile. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time."

The FIA’s Women in Motorsport commission added: “Such sad news about Sabine Schmitz, Queen of the Nürburgring. Our sincere condolences to all her family and friends.”