Le Mans: 2014 likely to be end of open-cockpit era
Open-cockpit LMP1 sports-car racing prototypes could disappear from the 24 Hours of Le Mans when the next generation of cars hits the track in 2014.
The idea of mandating closed-top coupe designs has emerged from the first meetings of the new committee setup by the Le Mans organizer, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, and the FIA ahead of the introduction of the new FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012. The coupe-only regulations would be part of a new rule book that calls for smaller and lighter prototypes.
Manufacturers and constructors of LMP1 machinery last month received a questionnaire that quizzed them on a number of rule proposals. A stipulation on the coupe body style was one of them; Autoweek understands it was suggested on safety grounds.
ACO sporting manager Vincent Beaumesnil, who said he hopes the 2014 rules will be published this December, would confirm only that outlawing open-top cars was a possibility.
"It is not something we have discussed definitively," he said. "There are still many meetings to go."
Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo, whose eponymous team has run open-top cars since it was established in 2000, admitted disappointment at the likely move.
"I have always preferred open cars, even when I was driving, but most importantly I don't like the idea of everyone being obliged to build the same type of car," he said. "All the cars could end up looking very similar."
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich, a self-confessed fan of open cars, said, "It was always nice to see both types of car running, but from the experience we have now, I understand the decision from a safety point of view." AutoWeek