A motorcyclist who died after he came off his bike and was thrown into the opposite motorway carriageway was travelling home from a motorcycle rally.

The 47-year-old man, from Harlow, Essex, is believed to have lost control of his motorbike on the northbound carriageway of the M23 at Crawley near junction 10, yesterday, before crashing into the central reservation and being thrown into the southbound carriageway.

The man was travelling home from the Ace Cafe reunion, which had taken place in Madeira Drive, Brighton, when the collision occurred at 3.57pm.

He was thrown into the southbound carriageway where he was hit by a trailer, carrying a car, being towed by a Mercedes Sprinter van, driven by a 29-year-old man from Coulsdon, Surrey.

Insp Andy Judson, from Sussex Police's Road Policing Unit, said: “It is not clear at this time what caused the motorbike to lose control but the result was devastating and extremely distressing for the many people who witnessed the collision or its aftermath.

“The northbound carriageway was closed for about five hours and the southbound reopened around 11.15pm.

“I appreciate that this caused considerable disruption in the area but it was a complex recovery, investigation and clean up operation and I should like to thank people for their patience and understanding.

“A number of witnesses have come forward but if you have not yet spoken to us, please call 0845 6070999, quoting Operation Beechcroft.”