THE brakes have been put on Tamworth's planned National Thunder Motorcycle Rally, which has been postponed until 2021.
Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) announced on Wednesday the event will not go ahead as planned this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first National Thunder rally to be held in Tamworth was set to run over four days in October 2020 at the city's Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC).
TRC events manager Barry Harley said the decision to postpone the rally was "heartbreaking".
He said the loss of the financial boost to the Tamworth community the event would have brought is one of the most disappointing factors.
"We were estimating something in the order of $1.5 million to $2 million that would be injected into the economy from perhaps 2000 bikes over four days," he said.
Mr Harley said a couple of key considerations could not be guaranteed amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak, so the inaugural event was postponed 12 months to October 2021.
"There have been a number of key considerations that went into this decision, the most important of which are around the health and safety of our ticket holders and the quality of the experience our punters expect," he said. The new dates locked in are October 1 to October 4 next year.
Mr Harley said the rally was showing promise when bookings launched this year, and several hundred tickets had already been sold pre-COVID.
"To see events like this ... postponed is worrying but we are no different to the rest of the nation or indeed the rest of the world," he said.
The National Thunder Motorcycle Rally was announced in June last year and was on track to have a packed schedule full of bikes, entertainment, an equestrian spectacular, food stalls and organised rides to towns like Walcha.
TRC confirmed ticket holders for the 2020 event will be transferred to the 2021 rally or will be eligible for a refund. Mr Harley said he's excited to bring the event to town down the road.
"We're looking forward to bringing a fantastic 2021 National Thunder event to the Tamworth region," he said.