Posts Tagged ‘Lancia D50’

spanish grand prix

Maurice Trintignant’s 1953 type Ferrari 625 from Harry Schell’s Maserati 250F and victor Mike Hawthorn’s 1954 type Ferrari 553 on the picturesque Pedralbes road circuit at Barcelona, 24 October 1954…

This event was famous for the race debut of the Lancia D50’s in the hands of Alberto Ascari and Gigi Villoresi, both were quick and Alberto led convincingly from Fangio’s Mercedes W196 until a clutch hydraulic failure caused his retirement.

The three drivers above had a great dice and all led at different points with Hawthorn taking the victory. Schell retired after a spin damaged his car and Trintignant with a fractured oil pipe. Hawthorn’s win was a good one made slightly easier by the problems Fangio was dealing with in his Benz, his W196 spraying oil into the cockpit.

lancia barcelona

The Ascari #34 and Villoresi #36 Lancia D50’s, just unloaded at Pedralbes for an event which showcased Vittorio Jano’s design brilliance as well as the sublime skills of Alberto Ascari. Such a pity Lancia ran out of money! Still a world title as a Lancia Ferrari D50, and drivers title for Fangio in 1956 was a great reflection on the original design even if it had ‘evolved’ a bit by then (unattributed)

I’m leaving Australia’s winter for 3 weeks in France and Spain including Barcelona so look forward to retracing the street circuits of  Montjuic Park and Pedralbes whilst based in one of my favourite cities. My posts will be shorter over this period.

YouTube Race Footage…

Photo Credit…Yves Debraine

image

Gino Valenzano’s Lancia D24 passes Reg Parnell’s Aston Martin DB3S in the early morning Brescia fog, the action captured by Louis Klemantaski aboard the Aston as both navigator and ‘snapper. Mille Miglia 2 May 1954…

It wasn’t to be a happy event for either car, they both failed to finish as a result of accidents. The competitiveness of Vittorio Jano’s newish D24 design was underlined by Alberto Ascari’s win in another of the cars in a time of 11 hours 26 minutes and 10 seconds. Vittorio Marzotto’s 2nd placed Ferrari 500 Mondial was 34 minutes in arrears.

Piero Taruffi’s Lancia led the race early from Brescia, that year fog replaced the more usual rain, he was first into Ravenna with a lead of 1.5 minutes. Castellotti retired his Lancia by Rome, soon Piero’s car developed an oil leak so he too retired. Ascari then assumed the lead but on the home leg north his throttle return spring failed, a rubber band provided a temporary repair. By Florence he was ready to retire but was prevailed upon to continue, then by Bologna all of the quick Ferrari’s had retired so the final 200Km into Brescia was a ‘cruise’ if the final hours of a race lasting 11 plus hours can be so described!

Gianni Lancia and Vittorio Jano created some stunning sports and racing cars in the early 1950’s, at least the Lancia heir could look back on them as a legacy when he was forced to cede management of the company such was its parlous financial state into 1955.

The new D24 ended 1953 with a stunning 1-3 in the November Carrera Panamericana in Mexico; Fangio won from cars driven by Piero Taruffi and Eugenio Castellotti. Felice Bonetto’s death in a D24 during the event somewhat muted the joy the team felt in victory, to say the least.

image

Brescia 1 May 1954: Lancia D24’s are islands in a sea of people. #541 Valenzano DNF distributor, #602 Ascari’s winning car and  #540 Castellotti DNF accident (unattributed)

The D24 evolved from the D23 Spyder, itself begat by the D20 Coupe design. Jano’s development times were short, the D23 made its race debut at the Monza GP on 28 June (2nd Bonetto) and the D24 at the Nurbugring 1000Km on 30 August (Taruffi/Manzon and Fangio/Bonetto both DNF). The wheelbase of the D24’s tubular steel spaceframe chassis was marginally reduced. The quad-cam, chain driven, 2 valve, triple Weber 46DCF3 fed, 60 degree V6 engines capacity was increased from the D23’s 3102cc to 3284cc with power in the range 240 to 270bhp @ 6500rpm for each of the two engines.

The cars late 1953 speed carried through into 1954 with the Taruffi/Manzon D24 leading the Sebring 12 Hour until an engine failure about an hour before the end. Despite that the car completed 161 laps compared with the 168 of Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in the winning OSCA MT4.

Wins at the Targa by Taruffi, not a championship round in 1954, and 4th & 6th in the Tourist Trophy gave Lancia 2nd place in the Manufacturers Championship with 20 points to Ferrari’s 38 despite not entering Le Mans.

Lancia did get plenty of promotional rub-off for their considerable investment in Italy with the cars winning a swag of races and hillclimbs in ’54. Castellotti won the Treponti-Castelnuovo, Coppa Firenze-Siena, Bolzano-Passo Mendola and the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo. Taruffi took the Giro di Sicilia, Catania-Etna and Coppa d’Oro di Sicilia and Villoresi the Oporto GP.

Lancia’s F1 program absorbed plenty of resources, the D50’s first race  was the final ’54 championship round on 24 October, the Spanish Grand Prix at Pedralbes, Barcelona. Alberto Ascari’s jewel of a Lancia D50 started from pole and led until clutch problems caused him to retire on lap 9.

Lancia D24 cutaway: essential elements of Vittorio Jano’s car. Multi-tubular steel spaceframe chassis, Pininfarina designed and built aluminium body, 60 degree DOHC, 3284cc 270bhp V6, independent front suspension, de Dion rear suspension, leaf springs and tubular shocks. Gearbox 4 speed mounted at rear. Inboard drum brakes front and rear. Weight 740-760Kg (Betti)

Despite the competing GP car program Jano evolved the D24 design later in the year by increasing the capacity of the V6 to 3550cc for which 300-305bhp @ 6500 rpm was claimed. Two of these cars dubbed D25 were entered for Ascari/Villoresi and Fangio/Castellotti  at the Tourist Trophy, Dundrod in September but both retired with diff and engine failure respectively. Taruffi/Fangio and Manzon/Castellotti were 4th and 6th in D24’s.

The timing of the GP debut was unfortunate as the D24 was a mighty fine, fast car which deserved to have been the primary competition focus of Lancia that year.

The D50 changed the course of GP history in terms of its brilliant design, it’s contribution to Lancia’s fiscal disaster and of course giving Ferrari a car which won the world drivers championship for JM Fangio in 1956. But the D24 could conceivably have won Lancia a sportscar manufacturers championship in 1954 had the necessary, exclusive effort been applied to that campaign.

Wonderful hindsight of course, one of my strengths!…

Credits…

Louis Klemantaski, STF, Bruno Betti

Tailpiece: Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D24 chassis ‘006’ of nine cars built, in Rome and ‘heading for home’ 2 May 1954…

image

(STF)

 

monaco fan moss

(Maurice Jarnoux)

The Mercedes Benz 1955 1,2; Fangio and Moss in W196, 22 May 1955…

Mercedes had three 1/2 finishes for the year; at Spa and Zandvoort when Fangio led Moss and at Aintree where Moss led Fangio. At Monaco things were looking good for another but JM’s car broke a rear axle on lap 49 and Moss had an engine failure in the closing laps of the race (lap 80 of 100).

image

(Jarnoux)

Maurice Trintignant (above) took a somewhat lucky, but well deserved win in his Ferrari 625 from Eugenio Castellotti’s Lancia D50, the Italian putting in a charge in the final stages of the race trying to catch the Frenchman.

image

Ascari and Castelotti in D50’s ahead of Behra’s 250F, later in the race but before lap 80 when Alberto took his afternoon swim (Jarnoux)

image

Moss discussing the Mercedes teams prospects with its legendary engineer/test driver Rudy Uhlenhaut during Monaco practice. This car was comprehensively rooted later in the day when Hans Hermann had a bad accident, hurting himself as well as the W196. Andre Simon was brought into the team to race the spare (GP Library)

This was the famous race in which Alberto Ascari crashed his Lancia D50 into the harbour perhaps distracted by Moss’ engine problems in front of him late in the race. He popped to the surface unharmed but was killed several days later testing a Ferrari sportscar at Monza.

image

Ascari’s D50 cruises past Lance Macklin’s Maser 250F, DNQ. Ascari 2nd on the grid (unattributed)

 

It was a pivotal time in the history of GP racing; Ascari’s death robbed Lancia of the driver around which its GP campaign was built and Gianni Lancia’s lavish race program was quickly driving his company into insolvency.

The famous ‘handover’ of Lancia assets to Ferrari occurred later in the year, solving Enzo’s immediate need of competitive cars. The ‘sponsorship’ in the form of an annual contribution to the Scuderia’s budget from Fiat laid the foundations of a strategic partnership which, via ownership of the road-car division from 1969 and ultimate acquisition of the company upon Enzo Ferrari’s death continues today.

image

Louis Chiron 6th let’s teammate Gigi Villoresi 5th Lancia D50 past whilst Jean Behra’s equal 3rd placed (with Cesare Perdisa) Maser 250F threatens (GP Library)

image

Farina’s Ferrari 625 4th about to be swallowed by Ascari’s Lancia D50 (GP Library)

image

That! high speed Mercedes transporter, Monaco 1955 (GP Library)

Credits…

Maurice Jarnoux, GP Library

Tailpieces…

monaco moss

Moss heading up the hill from Ste Devote,  Monaco 1955, Mercedes W196 (unattributed)

image

The master in the lead; Fangio led from pole until transmission dramas intervened on lap 49, Benz W196, Monaco ’55 (unattributed)

duck

(Jesse Alexander)

Alfonso de Portago practices his Ferrari 625 prior to the 1955 Pau Grand Prix, a race won by Jean Behra’s factory Maser 250F…

These superb images are from the Jesse Alexander Archive. The factory Maserati’s of #14 Behra, #16 Roberto Mieres and #18 Luigi Musso are in line astern in the Pau paddock, Saturday 10 April 1955.

pau

(Jesse Alexander)

Jean won the race from Eugenio Castellotti in a Lancia D50 and teammate Roberto Mieres in third. de Portago was 8th and the best placed Ferrari, no factory cars were entered by the Scuderia after a poor showing at Turin a fortnight before.

Ascari had the race in hand after a great dice with Behra early but with 20 laps to go had braking problems, the Lancia mechanics did a work around which gave him brakes on the front and allowed him to finish, Jean taking a lucky win.

castellotti

Eugenio’s Lancia being warmed up by the team, you can feel the staccato-blast of that lovely basso-profundo 2.5 litre V8!? (Jesse Alexander)

de 50 front

The nose of Lancia Team Leader Alberto Ascari’s Lancia D50. Pau 1955, he was 5th. Alberto died only 6weeks later at Monza in a tragic testing accident. (Jesse Alexander)

pau_1

(Jesse Alexander)

No sign of the admiring duck this time but again its de Portago in his Ferrari, not sure who it is behind, factory Ferrari GP drives would come his way in time.

Sensational shots of a great track, and thankfully still in use.

Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander Archive, http://www.jessealexander.com