The organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans have announced that the race's premier class, the LMP1 prototypes, will be restricted to coupe-style cars starting in 2010. The Automobile Club d'Ouest (ACO) announced the change in the run-up to this weekend's running of the endurance racing classic.

Although the current regulations allow for both coupe and roadster body styles, different specifications for the two body types have given the roadsters the performance edge. The Bentley EXP Speed 8 shown above was the last hardtop to win the race, in 2003.

The rule change is intended to make the cars in the headline class look more similar to road cars. (You see lots of waist-high winged coupes on your morning commute, right?) Rules for the smaller LMP2 prototypes will be unchanged, allowing open-top cars.

The change will also affect the American Le Mans Series in the U.S. and the Le Mans Endurance Series in Europe, both of which run to ACO rules.

[Source: SpeedTV.com  Photo courtesy Bentley]