Sabine Schmitz has died aged 51.

Sabine Schmitz

Sabine Schmitz

The racing driver and former 'Top Gear' co-host - who joined the BBC motoring show in 2016 alongside the likes of Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc and Eddie Jordan - has passed away after a three-year battle with cancer.

She was known as the "Queen of Nürburgring" due to her familiarity with the German circuit.

A tweet on the official Nürburgring Twitter account read: "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!"

The driver first appeared on 'Top Gear' in 2004 when she attempted to break then-presenter Jeremy Clarkson's lap time of nine minutes and 59 seconds around the Nürburgring. Jeremy had set the time in a Jaguar S-Type car, and she beat his time by 47 seconds in the same motor.

She then told him: "I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van."

Sabine then attempted to take Jeremy's time on in a Ford Transit van, and managed it in 10 minutes and eight seconds, just nine seconds shy of his time in the Jaguar.

Last year, Sabine told fans she wasn't part of the Nürburgring Endurance Series because of her cancer battle.

She wrote on social media: "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. (sic)"