The premier championship of motorcycle road racing, the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, was first organized by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in 1949. It is currently divided into three classes: MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3. The three classes are restricted to the 250cc, the 600cc and the 1000cc four-stroke engines respectively. The FIM remains as the sport's sanctioning body, while the commercial rights are owned by Dorna Sports.
MotoGP, the elite class of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, has changed dramatically over the recent years. With the upgrade of the four-stroke engines to 1000cc, some restrictive rules on the number of engines that may be used in a season, the fuel allowance during a race, etc, the riders too have had massive improvements in their yearly earnings. Top MotoGP riders travel around the world to compete the annual FIM World Championship series, and their sources of income are mainly determined by their performance in these series and the lucrative endorsement deals they have with various manufacturers and companies.
According to an estimate, leasing a top-level motorcycle for a rider in the MotoGP costs 3 to 3.5 million dollars for a racing season. Such motorcycles can reach speeds of up to 200mph. So, MotoGP is an extreme sport, and therefore, only few riders are selected on the basis of their current winning forms in the World Championships. Over recent years, the Championships were won mainly by Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner (retired) and Dani Pedrosa. They were all awarded with well-paid salaries for the services they rendered in MotoGP. Last year, a shining star in the name of Marc Marquez stunned the world with his winning performances in the Championship. On balance, every team is paying in the millions to their best riders in MotoGP.
However, MotoGP riders are getting paid peanuts when compared to Formula 1 drivers, NASCAR drivers or athletes from other major sports. Of course the number one rider on our list, a sporting icon, is making a handsome sum of money comparable to the athletes from other major sports, but what about the rest of the pack? Read on through our list of the top 10 highest-paid MotoGP riders in 2014 to find out.
10 Colin Edwards - Forward Racing Team - $950,000 per year
9 Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team - $1 million per year
8 Cal Crutchlow - Ducati Team - $1.2 million per year
7 Alvaro Bautista - Honda Gresini Racing Team - $1.4 million per year
6 Stefan Bradl - LCR Honda Team - $1.7 million per year
5 Nicky Hayden - Aspar Racing Team - $4 million per year
4 Marc Marquez - Repsol Honda Team - $4 million per year
3 Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda Team - $4 million per year
2 Jorge Lorenzo - Yamaha Factory Racing Team - $9.2 million per year
1 Valentino Rossi - Yamaha Factory Racing Team - $22 million per year
Valentino Rossi is one of the most successful motorcycle racers of all time with nine Grand Prix World Championships under his belt. He has won the MotoGP World Championship six times, in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Rossi was also the 2001 55occ World Champion, the 1999 25occ World Champion and the 1997 125cc World Champion. He finished the 2013 Championship standing on 4th position with 237 points. He will be riding bike number 46, partnering with Jorge Lorenzo until the end of the 2014 season. According to Sports Illustrated, Rossi earned an estimated $35 million in 2007. Today, he is the highest-paid MotoGP rider with an annual earning of $22 million, $10 million of which the 35-year-old earns from endorsements. Rossi is the only motorcycle racer present on a 'Forbes' top ten list for the highest-earning Motorsport competitors.
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