Photon is a good car. I don't think it requires a ton of shimming. It's good to shim the shock pistons, but that's not really a big deal to do. The new shocks included in the latest version of the kit have delrin shaft guides and are supposed to be very smooth. I just have the original shocks currently, but I don't have any major issues with them. It seems every kit has a few quirks you need to be aware of before building. I don't think the Photon is any worse than many of the other high end TCs in this regard.
I have basically the same motor and ESC (the overpriced hpi branded versions of both), but I don't use that set in my Photon. The sidewinder might fit if you put the receiver on top of your steering servo. I use a Tekin RS Pro in my Photon and even with that small an ESC it's a fairly snug fit with the rx flat on the chassis. This would be the case with most TCs though. Not a ton of room for everything.
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