Well-known to viewers of BBC’s Top Gear, Sabine Schmitz is preparing to make her Silverstone Classic debut, July 26-28, behind the wheel of a 220-mph Porsche 962 in one of the event’s thrilling races for Group C prototypes. The 44-year-old German, right, first came to fame as the ‘fastest taxi driver in the world’, a title she gained for driving passengers around the full 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit at very high speeds.
Over the past decade Schmitz has made regular appearances on Top Gear – most memorably when claiming all she needed was a Transit van to beat Jeremy Clarkson’s best lap time around the fearsome Nordschleife in a Jaguar S-type diesel. It was a challenge she only just failed to master in a later show.
As well as being a television personality both in the UK and Germany, Schmitz is also an accomplished racing driver. She was the first woman to taste victory in a major 24-hour race, winning the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 1996 – a feat she repeated the following year.
At the Silverstone Classic, Schmitz will be sharing a Porsche 962 with Klaus Abbelen in the two spectacular showdowns for Group C prototypes that raced at Le Mans in the Eighties. “The Porsche 962 is such great car for the purists – I just love driving it,” she said. “Silverstone is the Mecca for all petrol heads and, with all the downforce in the fast sections, racing the 962 is going to be a fantastic experience – if a little painful on the poor old neck muscles!”
“It’s going to be an incredible feeling to be racing against so many wonderful cars from
that period,” confirmed Abbelen. “For us to be part of something so special is just going to
be amazing. We can’t wait.”
Incredibly this year’s grid will include no fewer than six Porsche 962s with ex-F2 racer Herve Regout likely to be the pacesetter. Others to look out for are Japanese speedster Katsu Kubota in his Nissan R90C – a winner at the 2011 Classic – plus the fire-breathing ‘89 Mercedes C11 ‘Silver Arrow’ shared by Gareth Evans and triple FIA Thoroughbred GP champion Bob Berridge.
Nic Minassian will be debuting the world’s sole surviving Jaguar XJR-14, above. As a member of Peugeot factory team, the British-based Frenchman has two Le Mans podiums to his name in 2008 and 2011 and the Ross Brawn-designed purple XJR-14 won the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1991 when piloted by Martin Brundle and Derek Warwick. The Group C field is truly representative of the era with Jaguar XJR8/9, Martini Lancia LC2s, a Swiss-built Cheetah, the Australian Veskanda-Chevrolet and Spices galore all in the mix.
“This year’s two Group C race have all the ingredients to be the most exciting yet,” said Nick Wigley, Event Director. “We have all the most competitive cars and drivers from past years plus the added thrill of Sabine in the 962 and Nic in the incredible XJR-14 which is probably the ultimate Group C racer. The sights and sounds of these fabulous cars racing into the sunset on Saturday evening is going to be very special.”
For more information about the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival with more than 1,000 race entries, please visit http://www.silverstoneclassic.com/