With ambitions in business and autosport
Head of family, entrepreneur and racing driver. Arturs Sarma his path in the motorsports started with the most challenging way possible in the Baltic States – with BMW 325 CUP series which is a proper battleground even for the most experienced pilots. We meet Arturs in Riga centre in a modern office which is ornamented with paintings of celebrated Latvian and foreign artists.
Who is Arturs Sarma outside race tracks?
“First of all, a husband and father. But in business world I am founder, owner and CEO of several establishments that are connected with digital marketing, IT and online casinos. We operate in Latvia, in several Northern and Eastern Europe countries and also in South American market. Workload is huge and my schedule is ready for more than a year upfront.”
How did you find yourself in circuit racing?
“I am from Marupe neighbourhood and since early days I have been around cars, first time I sat by the wheel when I was 14. My first job was painter in a car service. But my first step in the motorsports could be in the year 2006, when drifting was massive. I bought a BMW E36, but already on my second practice the rear axle broke, and this is how it ended back then. Many, many years later on a summer evening I received a call from my childhood friend Roberts Rode: “See you tomorrow in Bikernieki!”. My previous experience before that in circuit racing was one hour in a simulator, just to understand where some corners go. So I went to the track where the BMW 325 CUP was prepared and I hit the track. I did pretty good right away, after around 8-10 laps I set a lap time of 1:37. After a short rest, I did one more session with more confidence, maybe a bit too much, because I entered the “Bridge” corner too fast and spun, luckily without touching the concrete. And that was it, that’s how it started!
In 2022, in the Rode Racing team I made my circuit racing debut in the legendary Nemuno Ziedas track in Kaunas. I was racing in the “Nankang 2h Endurance” race. And it was a success – among 11 teams in the class, we snatched third with my teammate Dmitrijs Gornevs. Another race in Parnu followed.”
What is circuit racing for you?
“First of all, it’s a hobby, a fulfilment of childhood dreams. A way to switch and relax from everyday problems and recharge energy for the new week at the work. It’s a hobby, but I want to be as good as I can be – I do testing, simulators, analyse and make myself better. Like in business – I have ambitions but I know it will take a lot of work and time, to get the results!”
At the end of 2023 season you were much closer to the upper part of the field. How do you evaluate your progress during the season?
“As one of the first reason I want to name that our team had a very extensive simulator programme in the winter. I drove around 5000 km in winter with my simulator, learning the car and the Baltic tracks. Perfecting the lines, feeling the tires and the grip level, so I could maximize fully my real race sessions.
Second, this was my first year in circuit racing sprint races, and it’s not psychologically easy when there are 40 hungry, determined and fast racing drivers around you. I could set a good lap time in the Qualifying, but I was struggling mentally to fight for every single meter on the race track. But I did better with each race and as a sweet cherry was the final event in Riga. If Friday was a common day on a dry track, then races were completely wet. It was my first experience – a wet race, but I think so it was for several more experienced drivers. Perhaps the new conditions means they drove more cautiously, while I got my confidence in the first laps and I could maintain good pace. I finished the race 1 in my highest ever position so far – 11th. I won both races in the “Rookie” class and it elevated me also to the 1st place in the standings.”
What is the plan for 2024?
“The plan is to continue BMW 325 CUP sprint races and sometimes also a 2h endurance race. First, I need to synchronize work and racing schedules, as of now there are some clashes. 100% I will be in Poland, because a new track always gives unique emotions, and also some surprises in the results – the track is unknown for everybody, guys who have done thousands of km in Bikernieki or Parnu won’t have that advantage. The traveling time is OK, because it’s very similar timewise and financially compared to any other events. I liked the track in the simulator and I can’t wait to race there!”
Do you have some bigger aims or dreams in motorsports?
“As of now, I have no ambitious plan to race somewhere in Europe, like Monza or Spa. I am looking for 2024 season with BMW 325 CUP. I have a thought to race some more modern car in the future, but in this moment it’s just a thought. Family and work come first!”