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You probably saw the headline yesterday, the one where the stock market took a nosedive and there was talk of doom and gloom for our economic future.

For those that don't know, the news behind the news is the fact that the bond market saw an inverted yield curve between the 2-year and 10-year treasury bonds. This is a fancy way of saying that investors expect to make more money in the short-term than the long-term, and this opinion reflects where our economy is headed.

For the last 50 years, an inverted yield curve has signaled the start of an economic recession, and while that is a scary thing to think about (we would all rather have a booming economy), the boom/bust cycle is common in economics and can often be mild.

Of course, what is different here is that the last recession that the United States experienced was the worst recession of all time, and in many ways we are still feeling its effects, whether those are physical or merely psychological.

While I will let the financial publications debate what kind of recession we are headed into, if they even agree that a recession is looming in front of us, this news does spark some interesting conversation for the motorcycle industry. Let me explain.

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Eight hours, three teams, one (eventual) winner. This year’s Suzuka 8-Hours had it all, but it also showed again that the differences between Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Honda are such that each has to approach the race in different ways.

Yamaha opted for balance, Honda for an advantage in the pits, and Kawasaki on the pace of Jonathan Rea and consistency of Leon Haslam.

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Why is the Suzuka 8-Hours dominated by Bridgestone tires? During last year’s edition, Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli sat down with Asphalt & Rubber to explain why Bridgestone is the preferred tire of choice at Suzuka.

Even the most talkative factory riders get tight lipped when the topic of tires is raised. After taking nine tenths of a second off the unofficial lap record, Jonathan Rea was asked to compare the feeling with Bridgestone tires compared to the Pirelli rubber used in WorldSBK.

The triple world champion side-stepped that landmine with customary ease by saying “they're both very high performance tires.”

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Tick, tock, tick, tock. As those second hands keep moving when you’re in the pits at the Suzuka 8-Hours the time being lost can be huge.

In many cases, it’s been the difference between winning and losing the great Japanese race. It might last eight hours, but the race is defined by how much, or most importantly how little, time your bike spends in the pits.

Getting the bike in and out quickly is just as important as being quick through the twists and turns of the track. You can’t win the race in the pits, but we have seen time and again that the 8-Hours can be lost in the pits.

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I would start with some grandiose phrase - "this weekend we witnessed history in the making" - but the reality is that there have been several attempts already to achieve what the MotoE World Cup sets to undertake.

Electric motorcycle racing has been in the nexus for almost a decade now, and if we are frank, the progress has been tough.

TTXGP, FIM ePower, TT Zero - there are achievements to each of these efforts, but none have been able to create a product that is on par with their petrol-powered counterparts.

So while we have been here before, with a new series dedicated to racing electric motorcycles, there is a chance that we have seen history in the making, because the MotoE World Cup shows signs of life...and it shows how a new racing series can be launched in the 21st century.

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The 2019 Isle of Man TT once again saw the record lap drop for the electric class, with the new TT Zero record mark set at 121.909 mph by Michael Rutter, on the Mugen Shinden Hachi machine.

The Japanese squad has become a tour de force at the Isle of Man TT, taking now six-straight victories on the Mountain Course. Each year, we have seen the winning TT Zero lap time drop in number, and 2019 was no different...though barely.

Shaving less than a second off his time from 2018, Rutter crossed the line in 18'34.172" - a figure likely attributable to the dismal weather conditions for this year's TT gathering, which meant very little practice time for all the competitors.

Despite that lack of progress, a quick look at the Mugen Shinden Hachi shows that the Japanese outfit has not been resting on its laurels, despite the lacking arrival of a serious competitor in the TT Zero class.

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We sat down with David Johnson before the start of the Isle of Man TT races, and the Australian explained to us the pressures that come with a factory ride.

On Thursday though, Johnson took his factory-backed Honda CBR1000RR to the podium in the Superstock TT race, thus fulfilling a major goal in his road racing career.

It wasn't an easy feat, especially considering the horrid weather that has been hammering the Isle of Man for the past fortnight.

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Lee Johnston claimed the first Isle of Man TT victory of his career in Monday's Supersport TT Race 1. Having won the class at the North West 200, the Northern Irishman was expected to be a contender on his Yamaha YZF-R6, but after finally breaking his duck, it was clear just how special this was for The General.

“I’m so emotional,” said Johnston afterwards. “This place is so weird, and I feel like I haven’t done anything different, but it just clicked. In one way it’s frustrating, but in another it’s amazing. I’m absolutely over the moon."

"I probably haven’t been the easiest person to live with because of all the stress, but this is what we do it for. It’s something I always wanted to do, and there’s one person [my dad] I wish was here to see that. He won’t be, but hopefully he’s looking down.”

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David “Davo” Johnson is back at the TT, and the Australian keeps learning and keeps improving. The Honda rider has spent ten years keeping a lid on expectations, and he’s now keen to put his lessons to good use

The Isle of Man TT is sink or swim. Some riders take to it like a duck to water, and others realize that it is just not for them.

It is the most unique race on the motorcycle calendar. It is you against the track. It is you against the clock. It is you against yourself.

For David Johnson though, this year is different. He is a factory Honda rider for the first time, and the Australian is doing all he can to make sure that he keeps the pressure to a minimum.

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The Isle of Man TT is 37.75 miles of asphalt through small villages and beautiful Manx countryside - the goal is to complete it in under 17 minutes, and at an average speed of over 135mph. Any mistake can be your last.

This is the most spectacular race track in the world. This is the Isle of Man TT Mountain Course.

Learning your way around the Isle of Man TT course is a mammoth task though. There is literally too much going on for your brain to comprehend it.

When riders talk about the course they piece together section by section. Where are the bumps? Where are the traffic lights? Where are the road signs? Where are the painted kerbs?

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The check boxes are getting ticked by the Ducati Panigale V4 R. WorldSBK race winner? Check! British Superbike race winner? Check! Road Racing winner? Not just yet.

The Ducati Panigale V4 R was designed and developed to dominate, and Gigi Dall’igna has said that the goal is to make the bike the most sought after Superbike in every paddock.

Last year the Italian spoke about how important it was to win the North West 200 because this was a race that Ducati had never won. Breaking new ground was important 12 months ago, and it’s even more important now.

The new bike is one that can, in theory, be a contender at the Suzuka 8 Hours, and finally give Ducati a reliable platform to compete at races such as that. The North West 200 is also a potential precursor to once again seeing Ducati on the roads of the Isle of Man.

This bike has the potential to be a real challenger, but it will take success this weekend to really show just how good the Panigale V4 R can become.

To find out what goes into making a bike into a contender on the roads Asphalt & Rubber talked with Paul Bird Motorsport to find out exactly what it takes.

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