Ahh.. I'm now back from a fantastic week at the Nürburgring. I'll make a separate post for the trip when I come around to it.

Time to do some real work on the car.
First out is the DP and exhaust.

Getting the original stuff off was easy as none of the bolts have had time to rust and get stuck.
On my old 96 that was a major issue on the nuts for the cat. (ehh... not that kind of cat... or nuts..).
Compared to the earlier NA models the NB(FL) has a lot of bracing and shielding that needs to be removed to expose the exhaust.
The right tools for the job also makes a big difference getting the DP off.

Compared to the original mild steel exhaust the stainless pipes looks like something I would have ont he wall in my living room rahter than under the car.
Surprisingly the downpipe and midpipe looks to have the same diameter tubing. My guess is that the main restricionts is the 50 cm cat and the back box muffler. The stock midpipe looks ok.

The new muffler has a more direct path and larger diameter tubing all the way inn and out of the muffler. The picture to the right is the inlet showing the perforated core. No chambers making back pressure.

The new exhaust fits perfectly on the original rubber hangers. Thermal Resarch (which makes the exhaust for FM) knows their stuff. The clamp holding the OEM DP to the gearbox is not needed and was discarded. The instructions said nothing of this but Keith had a post on http://www.mazda-speed.com/ saying it was safe to do so. No issues yet.
The exhaust tip is exactly how I want it; not too big and ricey and a nice finish.

FM was nice enough to design the exhaust with 3 bungs for oxygen sensors. Since I will do the Hydra install last the one designated for the WBO2 was blocked off.

First impression after a long testdrive is all positive. The exhaust note is louder but not annoying from inside the car. There is remarable more power in the midrange and faster spoolup. Topend feels more unrestricted and has a nice scream from the exhaust.
This is what the MSM should be like from the factory.
Can't wait to install the rest of the parts.