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Sabine Schmitz: a woman on a mission

Sabine Schmitz will be flying the flag for women in motorsport this weekend when she makes her debut in the FIA World Touring Car Championship races at the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife. The 45-year-old German, who is the first woman to contest a round of the WTCC since the late María de Villota back in 2007, will be pitting herself against the global stars of the series on a track she knows better than all of them.

Growing up at the family hotel within sight of the famous circuit, Sabine achieved success and fame through her driving exploits around the ‘Ring. Not only is she a winner of the gruelling Nürburgring 24 Hours, she began a high-speed ‘taxi’ service to show visitors to the venue how a fast lap should be done. It meant she would typically complete thousands of laps of the 170 corner track each year.

Michèle Mouton, President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission - which is backing Sabine in this World Championship event - was full of support for the Queen of the ‘Ring: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Sabine on a circuit she knows so well,” she said. “She will be competing against a world-class field on an incredibly challenging track, but the conditions are the same for all the drivers and while it will be tough to jump into the car and try to challenge the regulars she seems to have the drive and determination to do just that. We will be following her with great interest and wish her much success at the weekend.”

Ahead of her competitive debut in the WTCC, Sabine - who is the first woman to drive a new-generation TC1 car - had the following to say to

You are promoting the FIA Women in Motorsport campaign. What does the initiative mean to you?
“My whole life has been about racing against men and I don’t care who is in the car next to me. I just have to try to beat them all! The Women in Motorsport Commission is working hard to promote the fact there are equal opportunities for women and the hope is that we will see more young girls attracted into our sport, in whatever capacity.”

What would you say to other female drivers looking to follow you into racing?
“The biggest problem is they will get afraid because they come up against men with a lot of testosterone talking about how good you are looking, trying to make you uncomfortable. So my advice is don’t care about what people are saying to you. Do your thing, concentrate on the race and that’s it.”

Since the pre-event test, do you have any more thoughts about the car and your chances in the WTCC Race of Germany?
“I just want to have fun first, then I have to look at qualifying and what is my position. Then I have a standing start, which is new for me because I normally do a rolling start so I have to make the car good for the take-off. But I don’t put myself under pressure. If I have fun I am good, I hope to have fun but I hope to have rain also.”

How do you rate your chances of success?
“When I am behind the wheel I give everything. I am tough and I bite also. I don’t want to dream too much but if I could be on the podium that would be a dream come true. But if I end up in the top five I will be very satisfied as well. But first you have to finish.”