The small capacity trials machines continued to be marketed, with very minor aesthetic changes, but the success story was not over yet. In 1980 the brand had seen a major overhaul of models in their expanded range and the new Cota 200 was born. Mechanically this was a stroked version of the old Cota 123/172. This time though the bore was returned to its original size but a 64mm stroke crankshaft gave a capacity of 173.7.
Nigel Birkett was a contracted Montesa rider but after a poor run of results on the large-capacity Cota 349 he was told his contract would not be renewed for 1981. The new white Cota 200 had been introduced at a series of demonstration days in Europe for the new model range, and the factory were sending it to the UK for evaluation by their importer Jim Sandiford. The machine had seen much use but after a good ‘fettling’ in the Sandiford workshops it was given to Birkett for his impressions. As they say, the rest is history, as he finished 4th in the British Championship having won two rounds, finished 4th in the Scott and to round off the year won the Northern Experts in front of Malcolm Rathmell on the more powerful Cota 349! It’s quite interesting that Birkett could have won more events but at the national John Douglas Trial a design fault put him out of the event. He encountered severe gear selection problems and despite many engine strip-downs it was eventually found out to be a small dint in the clutch case stopping the mechanism working.
Jim Sandiford offered Birkett an improved contract to stay at Montesa on the Cota 200 model, but his mind was set to leave and he moved to Fantic. The Cota 200 sold well but after Birkett’s departure and the arrival of the mono-shock Yamaha in May 1983 sales were very low.
1981: One of Jim Sandiford’s supported riders on the Cota 200 was Howard Jackman, seen here at a Macclesfield Trials Club event at Rough Hays Quarry near Macclesfield. 1981: Jeremey Cragg would fly the Sandiford Montesa flag in the B Class schoolboy...