New winners on a podium always create exciting racing - as Kenny Gilbert showed as he fought for his first National victory at the Rock Blend Off-road in the motorcycle category.The 180km race was Round 2 of the SA National Off-road championship. While Gilbert won on a Yamaha, former quad champion Brian Baragwanath (Yamaha) also had to work his way up from the middle of the field to win the quad section.KEEPING THE PACEGilbert was one of eight starters on the first row after finishing third at the previous National. He settled in behind Louwrens Mahoney (KTM) who set a blistering pace but a problem with Mahoney’s front shock-absorber on the second of the three loops saw him lose time and positions. Ruan Roberts (Yamaha, OR1) and Michael Pentecost (Yamaha, 2OOcc) finished second and third respectively - their first podiums, too.In the quads, Baragwanath (Q1 championship) started row 11 - quads start in pairs - and chased the front-runners in their dust. He made up time despite a puncture and managed to take the lead from Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support – Q1) on the last lap where the route was altered due to a muddy river crossing that became impassable. Meyer, who won the opening race, had two flats on the first lap and was in a tight battle with John Aylward (Yamaha – Q1) and Jacques Struwig (Suzuki). Meyer finished second with Aylward third.FULL HOUSEThe dusty and demanding route tested the 125 National motorcycle competitors and 69 quads, with riders separated by seconds. Dino do Amaral (KTM – Q1) was fourth in the quad category with Leonard dos Santos (Suzuki) winning Q2 for riders older than 28 and rounding off the top five. He was on only 17sec faster than youngster Mike Wagner (KTM – Q1) who was sixth. Wagner’s team mate Matthew Barnard (each is a former junior champion) was a minute behind him with Danie Erasmus (Suzuki – Q1) eighth. Jaco Moller (Suzuki – Q1), the 2012 junior champion, dropped from the top five back to ninth due to electrical problems and Enrico da Silva (Suzuki – Q1) rounded off the top 10 competing at National level for the first time in some years.TIGHT FINISHThere was even closer racing in the motorcycle category where less than a minute separate the four riders just off the podium. Privateer JC de Bruin (Yamaha – OR1) was fourth, 16sec faster than Altus de Wet (Husqvarna – OR1) and Chris Webster (Yamaha – OR1) who posted the exact same time. Mahoney (OR1) was 41sec behind Webster and was followed by team mates Riaan van Niekerk - who won OR2 (250cc) after he started on row five - and Juan 'Bollie' van Rooyen (OR1) who became tangled in a fence early in the race. Only a second separated Van Niekerk and Van Rooyen. Timothy Young (Yamaha) rounded off the top 10 (second in OR2).The battles were raging in the different class championships – in OR2 Vincent Crosbie (KTM) finished third (he won this class at the season-opener) while Marc Torlage (Yamaha) claimed the second spot in OR3 behind Pentecost with Renier Kotze (KTM) third. Estiaan Steenkamp claimed the first National victory for Husqvarna by winning OR4 (Under 21). Wilhelm Schonfeldt (Yamaha) was second with Jan Human (KTM) third.ONGOING BATTLEWayne Farmer (Gas Gas) and defending Senior champion Guy Henley (Kawasaki) continued their 2012 battle with Farmer returning to the top spot when he beat Henley by 31 seconds in the motorcycle category. Justin Broughton (KTM) rounded off the podium and pushed Ian Venter (KTM) to fourth with 35sec separating the two. Garth Prost (KTM) was fifth.Former Senior champion Paul Chomse put his Yamaha Banshee on the top step again when he beat Kobus Erasmus (Suzuki) in the quad category. Struwig (third) was followed by Charles Lee (Suzuki) and Jaco Joubert (Can-Am).All competitors had to complete the full race distance of 180km, including the Master Class entrants who only do half distance at longer off-road events. Here, Vicus Breedt (Suzuki) beat former Master Class quad champion, Jurie Meyer (Yamaha Support) with Tony dos Santos (Suzuki) third. Jan Berning (KTM) won this class on two wheels from Martin Poole (Yamaha) and Nicholas Kirk (Yamaha).The Silver Class Challenge of the motorcycle category had a 94sec gap between podium takers. Previous race winner Mauritz Meiring (Yamaha) had to settle for third behind youngster MJ Potgieter (KTM) while Gavin Cowley (KTM) took first place. Junior quad rider Berne Bester (Suzuki) claimed his first victory of the 2013 season with Christiaan Nel (Suzuki) someway behind in second and Heinrich van Gessellen (KTM) third after he lost his early lead due to mechanical problems.Liezel Barnard (Can-Am) won the Ladies Quad Class ahead of Adi du Plessis (Suzuki) while the previous race winner, Chardri Monk (KTM) ran out of fuel.In the bikes category, Toni Jardine (KTM) triumphed in this class, followed by Nanda Swiegers (KTM) and Kirsten Landman (KTM) who finished third despite a broken toe. Taye Perry (KTM) was fourth.Competitors have until late June to prepare for the only marathon event on the calendar, the Mantshwabisi. It will take place over June 20/21 in Botswana as the third and fourth rounds of the championship.Visit the website and Off-road & Enduro SA Facebook page for more information.Complete race results available here.