AN experienced biker died in a head-on collision with a car while test-riding a powerful motorcycle.

Gary Thomas Stainsby, 38, of Cotsford Park Estate, Horden, was putting a Triumph Sprint ST1050 though its paces when he attempted to overtake a low-loading lorry.

He collided with a blue Seat Cordoba at 10.45am, on June 10, on the A1086 Thorpe Road at Horden and died from multiple injuries at the scene.

The customer service centre worker had collected the £9,000 motorcyle from M and S Motorcycles, in Newcastle, at 10am and was taking it for a ride, wearing protective clothing.

Yesterday, an inquest at Chester-le-Street Coroners' Court heard from eyewitness and biker Arthur Gregory, of Raith Terrace, Horden.

He said: "The motorbike came up from behind and pulled alongside me. He was not doing excessive speed and he slowed up momentarily, then overtook me.

"He revved up to overtake the low-loader and I got the impression the motorcyclist was accelerating fast at that point."

Mr Gregory told the inquest the car was level with the lorry at the time of impact.

He added: "There was no opportunity for him to avoid the collision whatsoever."

The Seat was being driven by David Banks, 35, of James Street, Easington Colliery, Peterlee, who was travelling at about 40mph, 20mph below the speed limit at the time of the crash.

Mr Banks, who had received a back injury in the accident, said: "He overtook the wagon and came right on to my side of the road. He was trying to get between me and the wagon. I thought to myself 'He is not going to make it'.

"I couldn't have avoided the collision. It happened too quick. If I went right, I would have gone under the lorry, and if I went left, I would have gone down a hill."

North Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: "He had been riding the bike for a limited period of time and may not have been familiar with all of the handling characteristics.

"It seems like a strange place to carry out an overtaking manoeuvre. I remain surprised and it remains a mystery why Mr Stainsby, an experienced rider, tried to overtake in this place. What went wrong, we shall never know.