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Spain parties as Alonso triumphs
September 26, 2005 11:30 IST
A huge party began in Fernando Alonso's home town of Oviedo on Sunday when the Spanish driver became the country's first Formula One champion and the youngest in history.
"Fernando -- Thanks for making our dreams come true," read a huge banner held up by fans packed into an auditorium in Oviedo where they had watched the Brazilian Grand Prix.
After the 24-year-old sealed the championship with his third-place finish in Sao Paulo, a huge crowd of waving, happy fans massed in Oviedo's Plaza de Americas to toast his achievement, leaping up and down and chanting "Fernando, Fernando".
Some jumped into the fountain in the middle of the square.
Thousands of people waved the blue and yellow flag of Alonso's native Asturias region in the north of Spain, which are also the colours of his Renault team.
Well-wishers quaffed cider -- the local drink -- blew trumpets, sang the Asturias anthem and looked set to party all night.
Spain's King Juan Carlos telephoned Alonso to congratulate him, telling the driver it was a "great day for all Spaniards", Spanish state radio reported.
Alonso has single-handedly fuelled a huge boom in interest in Formula One in Spain.
Television audiences have soared for what used to be a minority sport in the country as Spaniards have been gripped with Alonso fever.
The driver's image is plastered on advertising hoardings in every major city and his achievements have even succeeded in pushing football off the front pages of sporting dailies in soccer-obsessed Spain.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage