ITV has revealed that viewing figures for the 2011 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship have risen by nearly 35 per cent compared to the corresponding events last season.

Figures released by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board have shown that the season opener at Brands Hatch attracted 21 per cent more viewers than last year, while the figures for Donington Park were up by 27 per cent.

Round three at Thruxton however saw the biggest increase, with viewing figures being 56 per cent up on the 2010 meeting - giving an average increase of 34.6 per cent for the first three rounds of the campaign.

"We are delighted by these figures," controller of sport for ITV Niall Sloane said. "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."

Series director Alan Gow was also thrilled with the figures revealed by the broadcaster.

"In the world of television I'm told that these are extraordinary increases, particularly as they are 'like for like'," he said. "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."