From Private Jet to Easyjet - rider salary chart

Despite the glamour, racing’s not the early ticket to retiring a rich man. Only the big hitters bring home the big bucks. Here are estimated wages of the not so rich and less famous

Valentino Rossi may be one of the world’s highest paid sportsmen, well ahead of F1 champ Lewis Hamilton and just behind global brand David Beckham but his whopping £21m a year salary is dwarfed by the likes of Tiger Woods, the highest earning sportsman of all time, who tucked away £88m in 2009.

You’d be forgiven for thinking motorcycle racing is awash with millionaires who roll up to the circuit in their private jets and stuff cash in their leathers for extra protection. The recession has hit racing and riders’ salaries hard. Unless you’re Loris Caprossi, or Troy Bayliss, most riders have just a few years in which to make it big and try to cash in before injury – or even worse – a faster team-mate, comes along.

We’ve dug around the paddock’s elite to find out what riders used to earn when sponsors could shell out enough cash to splash their logos on leathers, bikes and team trucks. And we’ve put together our estimates as to what some of racing’s primetime riders will be banking this year. Even at World Superbike level there are riders out there riding for nothing. Cancel the private jet, let’s go Ryanair instead.