Sabine Schmitz, Top Gear host and Queen of the Nurburgring, passes away aged 51

German racing legend Sabine Schmitz has tragically passed away aged 51 after a long battle with cancer.

Schmitz, the Queen of the Nurburgring, was a familiar face on British television due to her spell on the BBC's Top Gear over the years, first appearing on the show back in 2004.

Last year she revealed she had been secretly battling cancer since 2017.

Nurburgring, the iconic German racing track, revealed the tragic news on Wednesday morning.

A statement read: "The Nurburgring 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!"

In a gut-wrenching post on social media last year, Schmitz explained that her absence from the Nurburgring Endurance Series race was due to her battle with cancer.

She wrote: "Dear friends of professional motor sport.

"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.

"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 grew up within the boundaries of Germany's iconic race track and earned the nickname "Queen of the Nurburgring" after estimating she completed more than 20,000 laps of the track.

The racing icon also became known as the 'world’s fastest taxi driver' by driving passengers around the track in a BMW M5.

She first appeared on Top Gear in 2004 alongside Jeremy Clarkson and then became a regular feature on the popular TV show.

Following Clarkson's exit in 2015, Schmitz joined the revamped hosting line-up and retained a recurring role during the BBC's period of various presenters.

As well as Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, Schmitz also worked alongside Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc, and Paddy McGuinness and Andrew Flintoff during her spell on Top Gear.

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