Lancia D25 - Unfulfilled Promise
The Lancia D25 was born of the back of the success of the D24 but it wasn’t to be. Here we will look at the car history and why it could have been a serious Motorsport tool.
Gianni Lancia hired star driver Alberto Ascari for the Lancia Racing Programme after a dispute over his salary when driving for Ferrari. Ascari’s experience in the Mille Miglia and Formula One could be counted on to benefit the team massively. However the up and coming D50 Formula One car was not ready for the start of the 1954 season. Instead Ascari drove the D24 Sportscar and took victory at the Mille Miglia, leading Ascari to want more out of the D24.
After the success of the Mille Miglia, Ascari wanted a top performing car which descended from strong aerodynamic qualities so he went ahead to ask Gianni Lancia personally to develop this car. During 1954, Lancia worked on developing a larger and more powerful engine for the D24. The new engine was a 500cc up on the previous version to create a 3.7 litre V6 with a maximum of 300bhp. Four Lancia D24 cars were fitted with this new engine and renamed the Lancia D25.
The D25 only had one race start at the RAC Tourist Trophy race at the Dundrod track in Northern Ireland at the end of the 1954. Lancia fielded Four cars two of which were the new rebodied cars fitted with the new engines. The driver lineup was full of Sportscar heroes from the era, Fangio and Castellotti, Ascari and Villoresi, Taruffi and Fangio, Manzon and Castellotti. However only two of the cars reached the finish of the race
The D25 project came to a premature end after the death of Ascari after testing his friend and former Lancia drivers Ferrari 750 Monza at Monza. Ascari was not supposed to drive that day but decided to try a few laps as they were preparing to compete in the 1000KM of Monza. In his jacket and tie, shirt sleeves, ordinary trousers and Castellotti’s white helmet he set off for a few laps and sadly the car slid out of control at the Curva del Vialone, a high speed left hander. Today this is the Ascari chicane. Gianni Lancia was deeply affected by the death of his driver and stopped the project. Lancia donated the entire racing department to Ferrari and the story came to a rapid end, the D25 only saw one summer of use.
Only 3 D25’s were built, two of which were destroyed after the racing program was ended. Today the only surviving car is kept in the Lancia collection and is often run at historic events most recently being the 2017 Vernasca Silver Flag.