Top Gear stars and fans alike have been paying tribute to Sabine Schmitz, after the legendary racing driver died at the age of 51.
Sabine made a huge impact on the show after first appearing back in 2004, later becoming a series regular.
She became a real fan favourite, putting the show’s presenters in their place over the years with her famously blunt humour and driving prowess.
Known as the ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’, Sabine estimated that she completed more than 20,000 laps of the iconic Germany racing track.
Jeremy Clarkson paid his respects by writing: ‘Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.’
Paddy McGuinness, who has hosted Top Gear since 2016, also said: ‘I spent a glorious couple of days in a Ferrari with Sabine and she hunted me down in a banger race. What a woman, what a legacy, what a life. Very sad news. RIP the great Sabine Schmitz.’
The BBC has confirmed that the next episode of Top Gear will be dedicated to Sabine, with the broadcaster also set to film a tribute to the racing legend.
In the meantime, take a look back at Sabine’s greatest moments on Top Gear from over the years below.
Schooling Jeremy Clarkson at the Nürburgring
While she’s a legend in her home country, the first time many racing fans in the UK became aware of Sabine came in 2004, when Jeremy Clarkson headed to the Nürburgring.
She immediately made a big impression, with her no-nonsense attitude and scathing whit, giving Jeremy incredibly honest feedback about his driving.
Sabine acted as Jeremy’s mentor as Jeremy tested the Jaguar S-Type diesel and tried to get the car around the track in under 10 minutes.
She was the best person to teach him, having won the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race twice, but Jeremy’s efforts left her far from impressed.
When he finally managed to get round in just under 10 minutes, Sabine laughed and said she could ‘do that time in a van’.
Racing around the Nürburgring in a van
So, naturally, the Top Gear team called her bluff.
After being so dismissive of Jeremy’s time in 2004, the Top Gear crew returned to Germany a few years later to see if she could put her money where her mouth.
Sabine took a petrified Richard Hammond around the ring in a Ford Transit van, and later stripped out the vehicle to make it as quick as she possibly could.
She was more used to driving souped-up sports cars around the route, and the van could only manage 0-60mph in a gruelling 21 seconds.
Still, she showed her incredible skills to achieve a time of 10 minutes and 8 seconds – a matter of seconds slower than Jeremy in the Jaguar.
Leaving Rory Reid absolutely terrified in a VW Golf GTI
After becoming a fan favourite with her appearances in the 00s, Sabine became a more regular member of the show when it was relaunched following Jeremy Clarkson’s exit in 2015.
She joined as a presenter in the Chris Evans era, and one of her most memorable moments came when she left co-star Rory Reid absolutely terrified while driving him around in a VW Golf GTI.
Her driving skills were always frightening, and the sheer speed when she drove Rory round a track on the programme left him speechless and clinging on with all he had. Rory later said it was ‘one of the scariest things I’ve ever done’.
As well as being a fantastic personality, it’s a reminder of just what she could do behind the wheel of a car.
‘Smashing some stuff’ in a chain car race
In 2018, the Top Gear crew decided to have a go at ‘chain car racing’ in the US, which saw them tie three cars together and attempt to speed around a dirt race track.
There was only one choice when it came to the lead driver, of course. Sabine had mayhem on her mind, leaving co-star Chris Harris shaken by shouting ‘let’s smash some stuff!’ before setting off.
Safe to say, nothing on the track was getting in her way.
Top Gear is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
Credit: Original article published here.