A BARNSLEY man who is pioneering a rocket-powered car’s path to breaking the 800mph barrier has warned the project is at risk of collapse - unless more money is found.

Last March Ian Warhurst - the former managing director of Barugh Green-based company Melett - rescued The Bloodhound Project after it fell into administration following unsuccessful attempts to raise investments to keep the project going.

The car, now known as Bloodhound Land Speed Record, is powered by a Rolls-Royce jet engine and Nammo rocket and is aiming to break the current land speed world record of 763mph which has stood for more than 20 years.

However, vital sponsorship is now being sought to allow the project to continue and, unless about £8m is found, the speed record bid could be shelved.

It comes just months after Ian was named as BBC Top Gear’s man of the year - fresh from the arrow-shaped car hitting 628mph in South Africa weeks before.

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Ian said: “There had been too much world-class engineering invested into Bloodhound over the years and the car was too special to see it cut up for scrap when the previous project came to an end.

“Now we’ve run it and demonstrated to the world just what it’s capable of, we’re seeking sponsors to help us move to the next phase and break some records.

“This world land speed record campaign is unlike any other and although I’ve had lots of conversations with people who are interested in taking it on, we haven’t yet been able to get the money on the table.

“We need to do that in the next month because of the timescales we’re operating to.

“The clock is ticking to raise the necessary investment to re-group the team and crack on with the rocket program and other car upgrades in time to hit our 2021 deadlines. If we miss our cool weather window in July and August, temperatures in the Kalahari will make running a rocket untenable next year.”

The current record of 763.035mph is held by Thrust SSC, set in 1997 by a UK team led by Richard Noble and driven by Bloodhound’s Andy Green.

As speeds increase, the wheels will rise up out of the mud surface and plane in much the same way as a speedboat rides up on the surface of the water.

At 500mph and above, just a few millimetres of metal will be in contact with the desert surface, and the giant aluminium discs will act more like rudders than the wheels on a conventional car.

Ian said: “With the data we’ve generated from the high-speed testing we’re able to start budgeting for the next phase of the project, which will need to be funded through sponsorship.

“We need to keep things moving, to work to very clear timelines.

“Not only am I immensely proud of the team, I’m also delighted that we’ve been able to demonstrate that the car is eminently capable of setting a new world land speed record.

“The project remains dormant whilst we try to secure the funding but at a cost of tens of thousands per month of overheads, and the threat that we miss the weather window next year, we cannot remain dormant for long.

“After all that this project has achieved in the past year to prove its viability, it would be devastating to end here when we are so close. We remain optimistic but really are running out of time.”