TV viewing figures have revealed a staggering 34.6% jump in popularity for ITV4's live coverage for the opening three rounds of the 2011 British Touring Car Championship, compared to last year.

The opening round at Brands Hatch was watched by 21% more people than the corresponding meeting last year. The audience for action packed Donington Park weekend was up 27% and the third round at Thruxton was up 56% compared to the 2010 weekend at the Hampshire track.

Series director Alan Gow was understandably delighted with the news; “in the world of television I’m told that these are extraordinary increases, particularly as they are ‘like for like’. These figures make for more fantastic news for all our teams, drivers, circuits and sponsors. They also yet again further underline the superior levels of TV coverage enjoyed by the BTCC over any other form of motor sport in the UK, as well as the great entertainment the championship provides for households up and down the land.”

“We are delighted by these figures,” said Niall Sloane, Controller of Sport for ITV. “An increase of this sort of popularity in any sport on mainstream TV is terrific and very much a testament to the BTCC's fantastic on track action, dramatic storylines, rivalries and levels of professionalism which make for compelling viewing. The BTCC quite rightly remains at the forefront of our motor sport coverage and we very much look forward to continuing our coverage of this great championship into future years.”

All ten BTCC rounds are broadcast live on ITV4 with at least six and a half hours of race day action, showing all three touring car races, as well as the support race program.

The next round for the British Touring Car Championship in June 4-5 from Oulton Park, Cheshire.