Coupe prototype designs could disappear from the Le Mans 24 Hours as the result of new rules planned for 2011, according to AUTOSPORT magazine.
Draft 2011 rules communicated to manufacturers and constructors last week will ensure that "no one in their right mind would build a closed car," according to Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell.
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest revealed that it is planning to remove the power break given to coupes when the new Le Mans engine formula comes into force the year after next.
LMP1 and LMP2 coupes are afforded larger diameter air restrictors than their open top counterparts because they are forced to run air conditioning. This reflects the fact that an air-con system saps engine power.
"There will be no incentive to do a closed car, and you need that because a coupe is more work," said Howard-Chappell. "There is a small aerodynamic advantage in running a closed car, but there are so many negatives. You have to engineer doors – there is the question of additional weight and keeping the screen clean. It is a much more complex car."
Peugeot team manager Serge Saulnier also criticized the move.
"There needs to be an equivalence because of the power [sapped by the air-con] and the complexity of the system," he said. He also questioned the rule change on safety grounds.
"It is stupid to push people to make an open car in terms of safety," he added. "We believe that a closed car is the safer way."