fwiw. I wouldn't be surprised if Cyril Despres hooked up with Yamaha, especially with the French team underpinning.
From a purely competitive point of view (of which we know CD most certainly is), he is one win away from matching fellow countryman Stephane Peterhansel's Dakar record of six wins on a bike - a Yamaha bike no less.
I can see Cyril wanting to match and beat that record, and what sweeter way than on a Yamaha too?
From a more practical point of view, Yamaha France have a long history of developing the WR (and latterly the YZF) based bikes, and Olivier Pain and David Casteu especially have proved the machine has the pace, and lets not forget that Helder Rodrigues put a WR on the Dakar podium when KTM were still racing 690s!
I think what has let Yamaha France down in the past has been budget, especially when compared to the might of the factory KTM team/s.
Without the money and the corresponding focus of the 'best' people available, the project has never been ultimately successful - certainly not when you are up against the might of the KTM factory.
But that could change if you bring in Cyril (arguably the best rider both physically and tactically in the world), his team associates, and not least his sponsors' money?
Personally I don't see the Honda thing happening with Cyril - not this year at any rate... there is too much to lose on either side with a still unproven machine? If Honda employ the #1 rider and it doesn't work out for ANY reason, there will be so much egg on faces I'm not sure either side would live it down? Cyril is bound to blame the bike/factory, and the last thing Honda want's is that sort of high-profile criticism... It would not end well.
Therefore I like the 'romantic' notion that Cyril will go all patriotic for his record matching (and subsequently beating) campaign over the next two years - on a Yamaha, with an all-French team. He really has nothing left to prove now, other than the personal goal of being the 'best' Dakar rider ever...
It will also give him Carte Blanche with the ASO of course! "Technical infringements? what technical infringements?!" "Here, have my gloves Monsieur Despres!"