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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hill Wins, Title Rides On Final

SUZUKA, Japan -- Briton Damon Hill kept alive his hopes of grabbing the world drivers' championship when he seized a thrilling victory in a Japanese Grand Prix marred by rain and crashes.


Hill's victory Sunday left him just one point behind German rival Michael Schumacher in the world drivers' competition with one race remaining: the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide on Sunday. It will be the first time since 1986 that the drivers' championship has gone to the final race in Australia to be decided.


In heavy rain, Hill won by just 3.365 seconds thanks to superior pit-stop strategy.


The Williams team, for a change, had the perfect tactics for the conditions and their policy of making only one pit-stop instead of the two needed by Schumacher, 25, and Benetton, enabled Hill to resist a determined final charge by the German.


As a result, Hill, 34, was able to claim his sixth victory of the year and the ninth of his career. More significantly, it was his first outright win against Schumacher in any race that the two have started and finished without outside interruptions.


Frenchman Jean Alesi finished third, in a Ferrari, ahead of Briton Nigel Mansell in the second Williams, Briton Eddie Irvine who was fifth in a Jordan and Germany's Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a Sauber.


Only 13 cars finished the race, the other 13 all falling foul of the treacherous conditions on a day of several major accidents. The most serious saw Briton Martin Brundle's McLaren slide out of control and crash into a fire marshall.


The marshall's right leg was broken in the accident and he was taken to the hospital in Suzuka.


The race needed to be paced by a safety car several times and was red-flagged to a halt after Brundle's accident It was a tribute to all the drivers involved that the event was completed without further -- or more serious -- incidents.


In the drivers' championship, Schumacher now leads with 92 points; Hill is second with 91 points.


Hill dedicated his triumph to the family of former teammate Ayrton Senna, for whom a memorial ceremony was held close to the grid before the race.


The Briton said he was also immensely satisfied at surviving a weekend of stress and pressure, knowing he had to win to keep his hopes alive. But he was critical of organizers for allowing the race to continue in a downpour in the early stages when it was clearly dangerous and several cars crashed off the track.


"I think it was too dangerous for the race to continue and I knew there was carnage on the straight. No one could drive on the straight and keep the car going. Everyone was aquaplaning off," he said. "It was too dangerous for us to be racing."